Examine Machiavelli's use of historical examples. Is he ultimately writing a prescriptive argument (one that instructs rulers how they should exercise power most effectively) or a descriptive argument (one that simply describes how power had been exercised effectievly in the past)?
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"As you read The Prince it's important to understand Machiavelli's philosophical moorings. First and foremost, Machiavelli is a descriptive empiricist. Therefore, in contrast to the a priori, deductive, rational epistemology employed by Plato in The Republic, Machiavelli believes that human knowledge can only be ascertained via inductive observation of the world, or as Plato would say "in the cave." In other words, if you want to know how to organize a group of human beings, Machiavelli suggests that the best way to begin that process is to uncover the descriptive facts: How are sucessful organizations organized??
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