One of the major political thinkers known to us is Niccolo Machiavelli. He is well known for the phrase the end justifies the means which is continually being the subject of discussions and discourses today (Adams and Dyson). With Machiavelli's principles, we are now faced with the issue whether the desired ends is justified by the means used to achieve them. The issue will be explored in the light of Niccolo Machiavelli's The Qualities of the Prince and Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail to ascertain the meaning of the phrase the end justifies the means. It cannot be denied that there are implications and difficulties when unworthy means are used to achieve worthy ends. However, one thing is sure: if an end or goal is worthy, any mean to achieve that end is justifiable provided that both ends and means are noble and good.
The question whether the end justifies the means depends on the type of goal or end a person wants to achieve and the means they use. If both the means and the ends are equally noble and good, there is no question because the ends are justified by the means. This is the stand I have chosen to take. Although there are different views about the meaning of Machiavelli's expression, I agree with the belief that both the ends and means should be good. Individuals are known at times to use Machiavelli's phrase or expression as an excuse when they try to achieve their own goals no matter how immoral, illicit, and wrong their means are. For many individuals, it does not matter what means are used long as they get what they want. To justify their ends by some type of means sometimes involves doing a wrong thing when trying to achieve a positive end. They justify the wrong act by pointing to the outcome that was good. The wrong justification can be seen in some horrors in human history such as the Holocaust, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagaski, the World Wars, and even the bombing of the World Trade Center. There are a lot of justifications made by many people about the ends these events serve, but one thing is true, the ends are noble but the means are not.