Cui bono is a Latin phrase that means “who benefits?”, and is used to suggest that there’s a high probability that those responsible for a certain event are the ones who stand to gain from it

If a certain crime has been committed, ‘cui bono’ suggests that the person who committed that crime is likely someone who benefited from it.

Cui bono’ is a useful principle to understand, since it can help guide your reasoning process in a variety of situations. The principle of ‘who benefits from this’ is often mentioned in the context of criminal investigations and trials. Specifically, in such situations, it’s used to suggest that when trying to identify who committed a certain crime, it’s beneficial to figure out who benefited from it, since those who benefited from it are the ones who are most likely to be responsible for it.

However, the principle of cui bono can also be implemented in a variety of other situations. For example:

  • ‘It can help you identify who is responsible for spreading a certain piece of disinformation in the media.
  • It can help you figure out who is behind the push for legislation that will suppress a new technology.
  • It can help you identify who is trying to promote a new problematic policy in your workplace.

To implement the principle of ‘cui bono’, you need to ask yourself “who benefits from this?” when trying to figure out why a certain event has happened or news had spread. The more someone benefits from the event in question, the more likely they are to be responsible for it.

An important caveat to keep in mind is that while ‘cui bono’ is a beneficial rule of thumb to use, it should not be viewed as a principle that is guaranteed to lead you to the right conclusion. Rather, the principle of cui bono is useful for abductive reasoning, which allows us to find the most likely explanation for a set of observations, but, unlike deductive reasoning, it doesn’t lead us to an explanation that is necessarily the right one.

This means that while ‘cui bono’ can often point you in the right direction when attempting to figure out who is responsible for a certain course of action, there are times where this principle might lead you to the wrong conclusion.

Overall, while ‘cui bono’ can point you in the right direction in some cases, it’s important to remember that this principle does not suggest that those who stand to gain the most from something are necessarily the ones that are responsible for it. Rather, it simply suggests that those who stand to gain from something are more likely to be responsible for it.


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