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Maurizio Viroli

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198780885

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198780885.001.0001

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The Art of the State

The Art of the State

(p.42) 2 The Art of the State

Maurizio Viroli

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains why Machiavelli considered himself an expert on the special art of statecraft, and it tries to examine the intellectual processes that guided the writing of The Prince. To Machiavelli, the vivere politico or vivere civile is the civil community based on the rule of law and the common good. The chapter argues that Machiavelli implied that his little book, The Prince, contains all the necessary knowledge for preserving a state, including indications of what a prince should do when the interest of the state compels him to violate the norms of moral reason. Thus a ruler must learn to be able to be ‘not good’ and to use this capacity — or not — according to necessity. One aspect of the art of the state is to interpret the intentions of princes and rulers, and to understand the reasons for their actions.

Keywords:   statecraft, The Prince, state, vivere politico, vivere civile, moral reason, law, common good

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