Robert Miller a billionaire hedge fund manager has just lost a whooping $400 million through an investment in a copper mine that went awfully bad. Miller cannot allow the investors to know and realize his bad luck. Therefore, he manipulates the company’s records to prevent detection of the loss. He will be convicted of fraud if found. The question is ‘Would Nicollo Machiavelli approve such an action?’ Most definitely, Machiavelli would have advised Miller to approve the action. To Machiavelli the end justifies the means. Before making any decision, one has just to focus on the result alone. This, therefore, implies that we validate the legitimacy of the action. The action should be desirable and advantageous.
In Robert Millers’ case, he had to make either of two decisions with varying consequences: allow his mistakes to be known and go to jail and thus lose his power and influence, or cover up the whole scandal and maintain his power, prestige and privilege in the society. Naturally, the latter was the most advantageous for him. Machiavelli had been wholly against the morality for its own sake and, therefore, would have never approved the first advice. Machiavelli advised the prince that he should not deviate from what is good, if that is possible, but he should know how to do evil, if that is necessary (Berlin, 1971). Therefore, the necessity of what is good or evil should be the moral compass for human actions just as the great North Star is to sailors.
In another scene, Robert Miller runs away from the accident scene, which leads to the death of his mistress. Would Socrates have approved this? Socrates emphasized that before making any decision we ought to ask ourselves, whether it is the right thing to do. To Socrates doing what is good brought happiness not just to the doer but also to the society as a whole. He therefore would have advised Robert Miller to stay at the scene of the accident, because that was the right thing to do. To Socrates’ calculations of what is likely to happen to you if you make a certain decision are immaterial. You only have to consider whether it is right or wrong.
Socrates found himself in such a situation, where he was condemned to death for corrupting the youth, but instead of running away to the safety of exile, he chose to face death. As Plato writes he said the following in his apology, “You are mistaken my friend, if you think that a man who is worth anything ought to spend his time weighing up the prospects of life and death. He only has one thing to consider in performing any action: that is whether he is acting right or wrongly, like a good man or a bad one" (Tredennick, 1982). Based on the above statement, we can deduce that Socrates would have definitely disapproved what Robert Miller did.
Conflict Theory states that as long as there are economic inequalities in the society, we will always have a social conflict. This theory presupposes that people always act in self-interest and therefore will do whatever it takes to maintain their interests. Since the interests of the rich are almost incompatible with those of the poor, then conflict becomes inevitable. In the scene, where I used Robert Miller for the first example,, a billionaire has little care for interests of the investors. He only cares for his own interest, which is to make himself wealthier, even if that means risking the money of his investors. This is therefore a classic example of Conflict Theory. Ultimately, the interests of both could not be reconciled and conflict becomes inevitable.