Do ends justify means? Unjust means never lead to justifiable ends. This is a strict moral stance. A Machiavellian approach of ‘by whatever means possible’, however, might suggest otherwise, it might advise that it is better to be smart than to be labouringly or vainly good.
We the avid seekers of ease and profitability, in dealing with real-life issues and problems, always look out for shortcuts, use underhand and dodgy methods – those as our ‘smart’ stratagems and ‘clever’ tactics. If we could get away with lying most of us would use lies. The fact is the matters of real life do not appear to our understanding or come to match our strength or ability just as simply and straightforwardly as are the moral principles we ideally uphold. We create flexibilities in our moral conduct, create excuses for our otherwise objectionable behaviour; even the most democratic governments have their secrets, they lie to the people, use morally reprehensibly tools of spin and propaganda; the police use undercover, subterfuge, bluffs and intimidation.
Where the fact is, in reality, we cannot hundred per cent truthful and right, then the question is how wrong we can afford to be, how much lying we can use to stay really smart, without going morally bankrupt, without ending up expending all the credit that we may have borrowed from the justness of our end for doing so, from the self-made belief that ‘we mean only good’.