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Should Leaders be moral? Machiavelli’s Prince PHIL 1003 2008-09.

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Presentation on theme: "Should Leaders be moral? Machiavelli’s Prince PHIL 1003 2008-09."— Presentation transcript:

1 Should Leaders be moral? Machiavelli’s Prince PHIL

2 Tutorial assignments Please submit directly to Dr Cook or Arthur the week of the tutorials; Assignment is explained in the course outline, p. 2.

3 Ancients’ Legacy St. Augustine –The polis (city of Man < city of God) –The rule of reason over the passions: Problem of Sin and Evil (human enslavement to passions). Machiavelli –The idea of the res publica (public thing/polis) –Aristocratic rule: rule by the best (Aristotle)

4 Niccolò Machiavelli,

5 Who was Machiavelli? Italian writer and statesman Context: –many small, rival Italian states; –interference by France, Holy Roman Empire Served famous Medici rulers of Florence (city-state) Was disgraced, imprisoned and retired to his farm Author of –The Prince, one of many handbooks for princes –The Discourses (commentary on an ancient history of Rome); –A history of Florence; –A work on war.

6 Machiavelli’s name became synonymous with evil: “Machiavellian” (adj.) a “Machiavel” (noun)

7 Who was “the Prince”? Cesare Borgia, Illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI; sister of infamous Lucrezia Borgia (poisoner) Became ruler of the Romagna in Italy Lost his state after his father’s death; Died in a street fight in Spain; Keys to his success: –His father’s power and his own ruthless methods. –execution of own cruel deputy, Remirro de Orco (cut in half in the marketplace).

8 Cesare Borgia

9 Machiavelli’s doctrine Leader should not be moral; Conventional Christian virtues: –charity, –doing good to others (Golden Rule), –obeying 10 Commandments, –worshipping God. Why should the (new) Prince not practice these virtues?

10 What does the Prince need? Needs power, to maintain his position Should do anything he can to to retain it; Should use ruthless methods: –murder, lying, and any other crime necessary; A new prince “cannot observe all those things which give men a reputation for virtue” (101).

11 Machiavelli’s question about princes and the people’s affections “whether it is better to be loved than feared or the reverse”? “one would like to be both…but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both” (96). Do you think statesmen today should follow this rule? Does the character of the state play any role?

12 Cruelty used badly or well (pp.65-6) Used well: –Once and for all—a few acts as examples (95); –Better than repeated disorder (95); –Necessary; –Easily forgotten if not repeated. Used badly: –Habitual; –Evident; –Becomes necessary to maintain power; –Examples?

13 Cruelty is like an antibiotic Use it swiftly and not for too long. Too much compassion can be worse, allowing for prolonged civil unrest.

14 Why? Human nature (96-7): Ungrateful Fickle Lying Cowardly; will betray anyone to save oneself, especially a ruler whom one does not fear; Greedy; ruler must avoid taking subjects’ property and women; Simple-minded: someone is always ready to be deceived (100); Men judge by their eyes rather than by their hands (101).

15 Appearance of virtue is desirable (100): Compassionate, Faithful to his word, Guileless, Devout.

16 The Fox and the Lion Prince must unite beast and man Fox: defenseless against wolves, but recognizes traps Lion: defenseless against traps, but frightens off wolves Hence, be “a great liar and deceiver”; “…those who have known best how to imitate the fox have come off best” (100).

17 The Discourses Commentary on a history of ancient Rome; Masses may rule well: –“when the populace is in power and is well-ordered, it will be stable, prudent and grateful”; –“in much the same way, or in a better way, than a prince, however wise he be thought”. “a prince who contemns the laws, will be more ungrateful, fickle and imprudent than is the populace”; “…government by the populace is better than government by princes” (sec. I.58).

18 Comparison w/ Aristotle A. gave a qualified approval to democracy A king or a few is/are easier to corrupt than a large number of people; The people exhibit ‘collective wisdom’; They are the ones being ruled, and so should be the judges of that rule; –No matter what the regime: kinship/tyranny, aristocracy/oligarchy, democracy; Just as the diners at a restaurant may judge the quality of the chef.

19 Questions How would you apply Machiavelli’s doctrines from The Prince today? –To leaders? –To states? Are they more applicable to leaders or to states, or equally so?


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