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Machiavelli. Machiavelli. Historical Overview Human Nature and Power Fortune & Virtue Forms of Government. I. Historical Overview. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) European Renaissance Declining power of Church Advancing in Science, Arts, Literature

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Presentation Transcript
  • Historical Overview
  • Human Nature and Power
  • Fortune & Virtue
  • Forms of Government
i historical overview
I. Historical Overview
  • Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527)
  • European Renaissance
    • Declining power of Church
    • Advancing in Science, Arts, Literature
  • The Prince written in 1513 during period of political exile
i historical overview5
I. Historical Overview
  • Machiavelli & Florence
    • Medici family rules city
    • French forces invade, set up republican government
    • Machiavelli gets role in government, ends up as high civil servant, some diplomatic missions and military operations
i historical overview6
I. Historical Overview
  • Machiavelli & Florence
    • Spanish defeat the French, and reinstall the Medici
    • Machiavelli is arrested, tortured, and eventually exiled to his country home beyond the city walls
    • During this period (he’s in his 40s) he begins his philosophical/political writing, including The Prince and The Discourses
ii people and princes
II. People and Princes
  • What is the best way to maintain the state?
  • What is the best form of government?
  • What are the basic forms of government?
ii people and princes8
II. People and Princes
  • Because a political state is passive (events happen to it), it needs constant attention devoted to creating order and avoiding disorder
ii people and princes9
II. People and Princes
  • Unlike Aristotle, Machiavelli argues that basically we have two forms:
      • Republic
      • Monarchy

“All the states, all the dominions that have had and still have power over men, were and still are either republics or principalities” (The Prince, Chapter 1)

ii people and princes10
II. People and Princes
  • But throughout The Prince, that distinction blurs a bit, with monarchies or “civic principalities” ending up looking very similar to republics
  • The real distinction is then between republics and tyrannies (i.e., those monarchies or principalities which differ from republics).
iv forms of government
IV. Forms of Government
  • Republics:
    • Founded by a strong, inspirational leader rallying the citizenry
    • Based on law
    • Governed in the interest of the majority, not of a special elite
    • Mixed class – members of all classes have opportunity to participate
ii people and princes12
II. People and Princes
  • Note, republics require a special citizenry: active, engaged, public spirited
  • Unlikely to have those conditions in every area, so tyranny is inevitable
ii people and princes13
II. People and Princes
  • Republics are preferable for two reasons:
    • When err, the people are easier to reform than a single ruler
    • When are correct, we find more “virtue” in the people
ii people and princes14
II. People and Princes

“For a prince who knows no other control but his own will is like a madman, and a people that can do as it pleases will hardly be wise. If now we compare a prince who is controlled by laws, and a people that is restricted by them, we shall find more virtue in the people than in the prince...”

ii people and princes15
II. People and Princes

“and if we compare them when both are freed from such control, we shall see that the people are guilty of fewer excesses than the prince, and that the errors of the people are of less importance, and therefore more easily remedied. For a licentious and mutinous people may easily be brought back to good conduct by the influence and persuasion of a good man...

ii people and princes16
II. People and Princes

“but an evil-minded prince is not amendable to such influences, and therefore there is no other remedy against him but cold steel.”

ii people and princes17
II. People and Princes

“We may judge then from this of the relative defects of the one and the other; if words suffice to correct those of the people, whilst those of the prince can only be remedied by violence, no one can fail to see that where the greater remedy is required, there also the defects must be greater.”