Dirty Hands Essay

11830 Words48 Pages
The Problem of “Dirty Hands” and Corrupt Leadership —————— ✦ —————— LAURIE CALHOUN “Be sure, gentlemen of the jury, that if I had long ago attempted to take part in politics, I should have died long ago, and benefited neither you nor myself. Do not be angry with me for speaking the truth; no man will survive who genuinely opposes you or any other crowd and prevents the occurrence of many unjust and illegal happenings in the city. A man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public, life if he is to survive for even a short time.” —Socrates, in Plato’s Apology, 31d–32a “You should therefore know that there are two ways to fight: one while abiding by the rules, the other by using force. The first approach is unique to Man; the second is that of beasts. But because in many cases the first method will not suffice, one must be prepared to resort to force. This is why a ruler needs to know how to conduct himself in the manner of a beast as well as that of a man.” —Niccolò Machiavelli, Il Principe e altre opere politiche S uccessful political leaders have often been of questionable moral character. A persistent image in the political sphere is that of the active and powerful man willing to do whatever is strategically important in attaining his desired ends even though doing so may weigh heavily on his conscience. Is excellence in governmental leadership somehow incompatible with moral excellence? Does doing what one ought Laurie Calhoun is an independent writer living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Independent Review, v. VIII, n. 3, Winter 2004, ISSN 1086-1653, Copyright © 2004, pp. 363– 385. 363 364 ✦ LAURIE CALHOUN to do in one’s capacity as a leader preclude the possibility of doing what one ought to do as a human being? “The problem of dirty hands” refers to the alleged necessity of compromising or abandoning moral

More about Dirty Hands Essay

Open Document