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Views of Modern and Contemporary Western Philosophers about the Government’s Duties (Machiavelli)

niccolò machiavelli

During the modern era other views emerged in contrast to the traditional and classic views. Among Western political theories that emerged after renaissance, there are two main views about the government’s duties, limits of its authority and interference in the lives of its citizens. These two theories completely oppose each other in terms of determining the purpose and duties of the government.

One theory defines the duty of the government as serving the citizens’ common good within the framework of maintaining order and security, and other theory considers the government’s purpose as securing the interests of the ruler and securing power with every means possible. We will explain the second theory, which is called Machiavellianism, before proceeding to liberal government.

Machiavelli’s view

Because of his particular view about man’s nature and because of his atheistic and materialistic views,Italian political theoretician Niccolأ² Machiavelli (1969- 1527) does not consider pursing truth, justice and ethical principles in his political view. He believes that the Prince must forsake his ideals and pay attention to the realities.

In truth, man is an animal craftier than others but savage all the same. This theory comprises Machiavellianism, which denies the divine essence of man. Therefore the purpose of government is to provide the demands of rulers and serve them. The government has no other purpose that maintaining and strengthening power. According to Machiavelli’s view, the Prince is compelled on occasions to use force or deceit, and simultaneously be fox and lion.[1]


[1] Muhammad Ismael Khodadadi, Basics of political science, pp 135-166

Ahmad Niazi, graduate of Qom Seminary and Phd student of Al Mustafa international university

Source: political science journal, No. 3

Translated by: Sadroddin Musawi

Other links:

The Purpose of Government

Classic Theories of Happiness (Plato)

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