The Prince

The Truth Behind Machiavelli: An Ethical Politician at Heart College

In the Oxford English Dictionary there exists an irony: a definition of a term, which originated from the Italian politician Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, implies the exact opposite of what its originator argued. This irony is simultaneously a cause and a result of the common misinterpretation of Machiavelli’s writings: that he favored, as the Oxford dictionary puts it, one “who practices expediency in preference to morality; an intriguer or schemer.” (Oxford, 1989). But in truth, Machiavelli argued for the prosperity of ethics through a fundamentally selfless leader. In this way he favored morality over all else, and attempted to convey a set of guidelines that would preserve it throughout time.

To begin, the specific state that allows for the voluntary exercise of ethics requires protection because humans are naturally self-driven. As self-driven motivation frequently leads men to behave Unchristian-like, a particular construct is required to prevent men from practicing unethical behavior. In The Prince, Machiavelli writes, “The wish to acquire is in truth the very natural and common, and men always do so when they can…” (Prince, 3). Due to this, men often resort to immoral behavior such as deceit, ignorance,...

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