The ethical dilemma “do ends justify the means” preoccupied great number of thinkers and philosophers in human history. ‘The end justifies the means’ is a maxim which originated in an accusation made by Protestants against the Jesuits.
Consequentialism are those moral theories which hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. Notable consequentialist was an Italian diplomat and political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli. Consequentialism addresses questions like:
• What sort of consequences count as good consequences?
• Who is the primary beneficiary of moral action?
• How are the consequences judged and who judges them?
There are lots of examples of highly successful leaders who used unethical tactics to achieve their goals. Both Jack Welch (former head of GE) and John Chambers (Cisco System CEO) were very successful business leaders who made their companies the most profitable, but on the other hand they ruthlessly laid off several thousand employees. Furthermore American president Richard Nixon successfully negotiated a ceasefire with North Vietnam, effectively ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. But this and other achievements like détente with the Soviet Union and rapprochement with the People's Republic of China ("Only Nixon could go to China") were largely overshadowed by his conviction for the Watergate scandal.
Should leaders be judged solely on their end achievements? The most definitely they should not, because the process of achieving the goals could have significant impact on e.g. the environment, people, employee, shareholders, and society. Also, unethical tactics such as manipulation, verbal attacks, physical intimidation, lying, and others could induce uncontrollable events which could cause more damage than good and therefore overshadow or nullify the achievements.
What sort of consequences count as good consequences? In eastern European counties companies were...