Niccolo Machiavelli, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill present three distinct models of government in their works The Prince, Second Treatise of Government, and Utilitarianism. From an examination of these models it is possible to infer their views about human nature and its connection to the purpose of government. A key to comparing these views can be found in an examination of their ideas of morality as an intermediary between government and human nature. Whether this morality must be inferred from their writings or whether it is explicitly mentioned, it differs among the three in its definition, source, and purpose.
Approximately three hundred years separate the earliest of these works, The Prince, from the most recent, Utilitarianism, and a progression is discernible in the concept of morality over this span. Machiavelli does not mention the word "morality," but his description of the trends and ideals of human political interaction allow for a reasonable deduction of the concept. Locke, too, does not use the word, but he does write of "the standard of right and wrong." In contrast, Mill writes explicitly and extensively of morality in its forms, sources, and obligations. A logical starting point in this examination is a look at their relative views of human nature.
To Machiavelli, people are children that need order. They are childlike, not in their innocence, but in their passions. They are ungrateful, greedy, deceptive, and fickle. However, they are also rational and interested in avoiding danger. In calculating their interests they can perceive the need to join together to pursue common goals, such as conquest for acquisition, p...
... middle of paper ...
...e driven into civil society by their contentious natures. As such, all three have the need for an organizing and directing influence in society to ensure that it accomplishes the ends for which it exists. For Machiavelli and for Locke, this influence comes directly from the government. For Mill, this influence comes from within society, the associations one forms with other people; however it requires a certain minimal support from the government to keep it on the proper track. This influence is morality, and it is an extension of human nature.
Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Government, ed. Thomas Peardon, New York, Bobbs-Merrill, 1952.
Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Trans. Hill Thompson. Norwalk: The Easton Press, 1980.
Mill, John Stuart. ” Utilitarianism Resources. BLTC. 19 January 2003.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Even though academic study has frequently engaged with the question as to what form of government is ideal and what should be the goal of the government , there cannot be one absolute answer to this question , not merely because there has been no consensus among the scholarly community but because these questions cannot be detached from the polities which will bear the implications of the answer. Hence , it is pertinent that they must be looked at in a particular context. Mill argues for a representative government where sovereignty is vested in the aggregate of the community while Locke advocates majoritarian rule where legislative is supreme, though he prescribes certain limitations on it,... [tags: Second Treatise on Civil Government]
1825 words (5.2 pages)
- Locke's "Second Treatise, of Civil Government" has the main idea of putting sovereignty into the hands of the people, and this was one of the main ideas behind the constitution. It plays in very well, the framers built the government around the people, by making it a republic. On the national level all people are represented, and as it is divided down to state, county, city, etc. the people gain more power. Albeit, there are many differing theories of the motives of the founding fathers, from God's hand on their minds to the Burkean conservatives they are.... [tags: Second Treatise of Civil Government]
565 words (1.6 pages)
- This theory bears a lot of significance with regard to our political system and the role of government. The American political system was largely founded on the philosophical writings of John Locke. The assumption that much of his political philosophy was founded on, and in turn our governmental system, was that human nature is moral and virtuous. In his book The Second Treatise of Civil Government he speaks of the actions of men saying that “in transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is what measure God has set to the actions of men, for their mutual security.” (Locke Sec.... [tags: Political philosophy, Government, Thomas Hobbes]
1097 words (3.1 pages)
- Locke's The Second Treatise of Civil Government: The Significance of Reason The significance of reason is discussed both in John Locke's, The Second Treatise of Civil Government, and in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's, Emile. However, the definitions that both authors give to the word “reason” vary significantly. I will now attempt to compare the different meanings that each man considered to be the accurate definition of reason. John Locke believed that the state “all men are naturally in ... is a state of perfect freedom” (122), a state in which they live “without ...... [tags: Second Treatise on Civil Government]
1358 words (3.9 pages)
- Locke's Second Treatise of Government, by far, is his most influential and important piece of writing. In it he set forth his theory of natural law and natural right. He shows that there does exist a rational purpose to government, and one need not rely on "mysticism and mystery." Against anarchy, Locke saw his job as one who must defend government as an institution. Locke's object was to insist not only that the public welfare was the test of good government and the basis for properly imposing obligations on the citizens of a country, but also that the public welfare made government necessary.... [tags: Second Treatise on Civil Government]
1183 words (3.4 pages)
- Throughout history there have been significant debates, theories and agendas set forward as to what the best form of government is. Many of those individuals and groups who have written on the topic have their critics because they offer points that are highly controversial in theory and problematic when put into practice. John Locke and Publius, which is the collective name for Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, both published essays with regards to the nature of government and largely championed the notion of democracy.... [tags: Second Treatise on Civil Government]
1499 words (4.3 pages)
- The Enlightenment was an astonishing time of transformation in Europe. During this time in the eighteenth century there was a progressive movement that was labeled by its criticism of the normal religious, social, and political perceptions. A number of significant philosophers, with new philosophies, had inspired creativeness and change. These thinkers had many different thoughts and views on people and the way they act, and views on the government. Two well-known and most influential thinkers of this time were the English political philosopher John Locke and the French political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.... [tags: Two Treatises of Government]
1348 words (3.9 pages)
- In my high school government class senior year, my teacher made the class recite and repeat the rights that are clearly stated in the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States. “The right of speech, the right of the press, the right to petition, the right to religion, and the right to assemble…” we rattled off the list, then started again. When I stepped out of high school and into the real world, I realized just how grateful I was for the rights that I had and the fact that I had a government that allowed me to live in liberty and observe these rights.... [tags: Second Treatise on Civil Government]
905 words (2.6 pages)
- The phrase “the way” means a method by which one can achieve a goal, but is ambiguous and insignificant without proper context. In warring states China “The Way” or the “Dao” became extremely popular as a philosophy of governance as rulers began struggling to maintain order and peace within their respective states. In this paper I will analyze different interpretations of the “Way”. As products of subjective human thought, these “Ways” incited debate between philosophers and rulers as to who’s “Way” was correct.... [tags: Confucianism, Chinese philosophy, Confucius]
2406 words (6.9 pages)
- Throughout both Locke’s Second Treatise of Government and Hobbes Leviathan, they refer to the state of nature. Although these two views of the state of nature vary, they share similar tendencies. However, when these two views of the state of nature are compared to the view of Rousseau and his view of the state of nature, they tend to be more persuasive because of their similarities. When you compare the view of Locke and Hobbes, we see that Hobbes views the state of nature as the human condition without government.... [tags: Political philosophy, Social contract, John Locke]
762 words (2.2 pages)
- Comparing More's Utopia, Machiavelli's The Discourses, and Hobbes' The Leviathan
- Dr. Faustus: A Morality Play Without a Moral?
- Analysis of Penelope as Moral Agent in Homer’s Odyssey
- Hamlet's Metaphor For His Friends' Betrayal
- Oedipus the King: The Cost of Free Will
- Irony, Satire, Symbols, and Symbolism in Voltaire's Candide