Chapter

Machiavelli and Moral Change

Terence Ball

in Reappraising Political Theory

Published in print November 1994 | ISBN: 9780198279952
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598753 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198279957.003.0003
 Machiavelli and Moral Change

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Machiavelli's conception of princely virtue—virtù—is entirely consistent with the brutal precepts and practices prescribed in The Prince, and for which his own and succeeding generations have roundly condemned him. Here, I recover and re‐examine Machiavelli's central concept of princely virtù and its place in his political thinking. My claim is that Machiavellian virtù shares some crucial conceptual affinities with the older Homeric conception of virtue (αρετη), or role‐related specific excellence.

Keywords: arete; conceptual change; Homeric ethics; Machiavelli; morality; Niccolo; political theory; virtù; virtue

Chapter.  6955 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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