• It applies to Machiavelli's THE PRINCE; in one of the chapters he outlines the idea "if the goal you are working for is important enough, then whatever you do to get there is acceptable."
  • Earliest use of “The End Justifies The Means” The Greek playwright Sophocles wrote in Electra (c 409 B.C.), "The end excuses any evil” Later by the Roman poet Ovid "The result justifies the deed" in 'Heroides” (c. 10 B.C.).
  • Yes, it is by Machiavelli from his writing to the Prince at the time. The true words utter is "Si guarde el fena", translated, we must often look to the future.
  • i believe a greek 'wrote/said' those words, undoubtedly changed through translations, but machiavelli never wrote that in the prince and it remains a misconception. it remains debatable whether he really subscribed to a system of morals, but if you read his works, he ends up being very contradictory, mentioning lion and fox as well as agathocles as a warning. so while the idea is raised by him, no he never said those words
  • Consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. Thus, on a consequentialist account, a morally right action is an action that produces good consequences. In other words, the ends justify the means. Consequentialism is usually understood as distinct from both deontology, which derives the rightness or wrongness of an act from the nature of the act itself and virtue ethics, which focuses on the character of the agent rather than on the nature or consequences of the action itself. The difference between these three approaches to morality tends to lie more in the way moral dilemmas are approached than in the moral conclusions reached. For example, a consequentialist may argue that lying is wrong because of the negative consequences produced by lying — though a consequentialist may allow that certain foreseeable consequences might make lying acceptable. A deontologist might argue that lying is always wrong, regardless of any potential "good" that might come from lying. A virtue ethicist, however, would focus less on lying in any particular instance and instead consider what a decision to tell a lie or not tell a lie said about one's character. "The Greek playwright Sophocles wrote in Electra (c 409 B.C.), 'The end excuses any evil,' a thought later rendered by the Roman poet Ovid as 'The result justifies the deed' in 'Heroides' (c. 10 B.C.)." From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993). Another source explains the phrase as meaning: "Anything is acceptable if it leads to a successful result." First use in the United States: "Diary" (1657) by Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705), American clergyman and poet. "The means justify the end" is a variation. From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). It is often used in a negative way. If the end justifies the means, then spurious ends, such as the supremacy of the third Reich, and justify unethical means, such as destroying anyone who gets in the way of this end. Or, the if the glory of God and the fulfillment of His wishes is the end, then burning people who are in the way of this is justified. Or if spreading the word of the Gospel is the end, then using deceptive and other questionable means to achieve this end is justified. Thus, people may say, when disputing certain well-publicized efforts to forward goals they don't share, "Uh-huh. The end justifies the means." (That is, you are relying on the same arguments that have justified every horror known to man.) Cf. [Ovid Heroides ii. 85] exitus acta probat, the outcome justifies the deeds. The negative of this is also often asserted. The ende good, doeth not by and by make the meanes good. [1583 G. Babington Exposition of Commandments 260] The End must justify the Means: He only Sins who Ill intends. [1718 M. Prior Literary Works (1971) I. 186] ‘The police don't like to have their bodies moved.’‥‘In this case the end justifies the means.’ [1941 ‘H. Bailey’ Smiling Corpse 238] The conservatives' war on drugs is an example of good intentions that have had unfortunate consequences. As often happens with noble causes, the end justifies the means, and the means of the drug war are inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution and our civil liberties. [2001 Washington Times 2 Aug. A16] A good outcome excuses any wrongs committed to attain it. For example, He's campaigning with illegal funds on the theory that if he wins the election the end will justify the means, or The officer tricked her into admitting her guilt--the end sometimes justifies the means. This proverbial (and controversial) observation dates from ancient times, but in English it was first recorded only in 1583.
  • To the author of answer 5. What you write fits in with with what I remember that Machiavellian's advice to the Prince was. The advice was not to back off and not by hoping that the problems would disappear by themselves, letting things get out of control, because then the damage done would be worse than the damage that would be done by taking timely action. So looking to the future would be the perfect way for the Prince to come up with the correct answer.
  • I believe this expression was also given as "the ends SANCTIFY the means....said by , I think, a jesuit...can anyone thro light on this?

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