Machiavelli, the Immoralist? Think Again!


The Prince
political philosophy
Renaissance thought

How to Cite

A. Astore, Rocco. 2018. “Machiavelli, the Immoralist? Think Again!”. Brolly 1 (3):37-47.


Human nature is far from being perfect. Such a statement made Niccolò Machiavelli, the philosopher of the Renaissance known for his brand of political realism, claim that it is necessary for a ruler to keep a firm grasp on his/her populace in a way that neither favours them too much nor treats them outright oppressively. In other words, Machiavelli believes that a prudent leader is one who knows how to steer his/her population without the use of too much force while refraining from being too lackadaisical. However, by reading Machiavelli’s The Prince, one may wonder why the author portrays such a blatant support for ghastly measures like exterminating the family of the house that ruled the state one seeks to conquer, or why it is that a potentate must reside in a newly captured territory, even if the ruler has no heartfelt interests in doing so. Can we argue that because Machiavelli divorces politics from morality, as well as affirms a nasty view of humanity’s nature, an amoral, instead of an immoral interpretation of The Prince is possible? If we could justify that human nature is at least somewhat abysmal and that politics does not need to be ethical, could this help wash clean the repugnant reading that Machiavelli’s The Prince invites? Quite simply, this essay will argue that we can and that morals and politics are, in fact, divorceable.