Machiavelli's challenge Vs Utilitarianism Watch

Chris90
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Hello everyone,

I am reading up on machiavelli's challenge that politicians must sometimes get their hands dirty in order to achieve the greater political good, this is in close comparison to 'dirty hands' theory. However while trying to compare to utilitarianism I cannot find any differences between the two, as utilitarians also believe that immoral actions can sometimes bring about the greater political good. Can anyone help me with regards to how they differ?

Thanks in advance
Chris
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RawJoh1
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(Original post by Chris90)
Hello everyone,

I am reading up on machiavelli's challenge that politicians must sometimes get their hands dirty in order to achieve the greater political good, this is in close comparison to 'dirty hands' theory. However while trying to compare to utilitarianism I cannot find any differences between the two, as utilitarians also believe that immoral actions can sometimes bring about the greater political good. Can anyone help me with regards to how they differ?

Thanks in advance
Chris
Machiavelli wasn't a utilitarian because he didn't hold to the utilitarian theory of value in either The Prince or The Discourses. He doesn't think that the Good is Happiness.

I do think he's a sort of consequentialist though, even if he doesn't explicitly state it (though he can't be blamed for that).

Also, utilitarians do not believe that immoral actions can maximise the good. If they maximise the good, they (by definition for the utilitarian) are right actions and hence not immoral. At most, they can be 'immoral' by the lights of common-sense morality. But why should we care about that? (asks the utilitarian)
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Chris90
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(Original post by RawJoh1)
Machiavelli wasn't a utilitarian because he didn't hold to the utilitarian theory of value in either The Prince or The Discourses. He doesn't think that the Good is Happiness.

I do think he's a sort of consequentialist though, even if he doesn't explicitly state it (though he can't be blamed for that).

Also, utilitarians do not believe that immoral actions can maximise the good. If they maximise the good, they (by definition for the utilitarian) are right actions and hence not immoral. At most, they can be 'immoral' by the lights of common-sense morality. But why should we care about that? (asks the utilitarian)
Thanks for that, just one last thing, do dirty hands theorists believe that guilt should always be felt, even if it brings a good result. And utilitarianism, no guilt to be felt unless the consequences prove to be dire?

I am not so sure about the correlations between machiavelli and dirty hands in this regard, as from my reading of machiavelli it sounds as though a ruler should act with no remorse
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RawJoh1
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(Original post by Chris90)
Thanks for that, just one last thing, do dirty hands theorists believe that guilt should always be felt, even if it brings a good result. And utilitarianism, no guilt to be felt unless the consequences prove to be dire?

I am not so sure about the correlations between machiavelli and dirty hands in this regard, as from my reading of machiavelli it sounds as though a ruler should act with no remorse
I've never studied dirty hands, so can't help you with that.

Re: Guilt. The sophisticated act utilitarian will do whatever it is that maximises happiness. Now maybe feeling guilt when you do 'bad' things (in order to maximise the good) will in fact maximise happiness (because if you didn't cultivate the disposition to feel guilt, you might do 'bad' things more often and hence not maximise happiness). It's an empirical question.

I read Machiavelli as not suggesting that the ruler should feel remorse as well. I wrote the following in an essay on The Prince a while back:

"Cesare Borgia’s murder of Rimirro de Orio and the exhibition of his body in the public square struck Machiavelli as profoundly right. It was resolute, it took courage, and it brought about Borgia’s desired effect of leaving the people in awe. Machiavelli does not face the crimes of his society with reluctance – there is no trace of tragedy or agony in any of his political writings."


The only circumstance in which the Prince might have to feel guilt (in a situation where he acts 'bad') is one in which there is some benefit to doing so. That he must be seen to feel guilty etc (in the same way Machiavelli thinks that Prince must be seen to be honest etc).
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Jeff Durant
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Utilitarianism and Machiavelli both discount the sanctity of individual life, (except in the case of their own welfare, of course) and are the same as a result. The initial assertion was correct.
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