The Impact of Philosophy on Government

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Between the time of Machiavelli’s The Prince and Locke’s Second Treatise of

Government, the concept of government evolved greatly. There were several philosophers that

contributed their ideas and helped build the foundation for the governments we have


Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher, who lived from 1469 – 1527, became well

known with his ideas and concepts of government. Machiavelli in his book The Prince, a guide

of how to rule dedicated to Lorenzo de’ Medici, ruler of Florence at that time, clearly

exposed his concepts about what he thought a ruler had to do to be respected and admired.

Machiavelli believed that whoever possessed the power had the right to command, however,

he stated that the goodness of the ruler does not ensure power in anyway, and a good person

had no more authority by being good.

For Machiavelli, power defined political activity, and for this reason it was necessary for any

successful ruler to know how to use it. He believed that only by applying power properly

individuals could obey and the ruler could then, maintain their state safe and secure. He

thought that people abide by the rules only because they fear the consequences that will bring

them not doing so, whether it could be the loss of their own life or the privileges that they

enjoyed at that moment. He recommended the rulers that they were in a better position if they

were cruel, and that at all times they would watch for their interests first even if they had to

break the promises that they had done. He also advised them that they should avoid being

hated, and they should undertake great projects to enhance their reputation and choose wise

advisors around them.

The Prince still remai...

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