What kind of characteristics does Machiavelli argue a ruler should have? Is hisargument amoral?
Niccoló Machiavelli outlines a method of rule which has caused greatcontroversy in the five hundred years since it was written. The reason for this controversy can be attributed to Machiavelli’s dramatic departure from the orthodox Christian morality whichis, and has been, all-pervasive in Europe. However, despite the common accusation thatMachiavelli’s text is amoral (or immoral, from the point of view of the Christian discourse)
is imbued with a very strong and definite morality, albeit an alternative,somewhat unorthodox one. The primary tenet of this morality is that protection and preservation of the state is good, both for a ruler and for the state’s population. It will beshown to be strongly upheld by many of the arguments in
for which Machiavellihas been vilified.Machiavelli’s ideas in
can be roughly divided into two groups: he deals with the(primarily military) technicalities of becoming and remaining a ruler, and he examines thevarious individual qualities a ruler should possess. For the purposes of outliningMachiavelli’s alternative morality, the latter group proves more fruitful. Althoughcontroversial, two basic theories found here will justify to some extent Machiavelli’smorality. The first and more contentious of these is that it is acceptable, even expedient, for aruler to deliberately separate his actions from appearances. By claiming that ‘the gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that a man who neglects whatis actually done for what should be done moves towards self-destruction rather than self- preservation’, (Machiavelli 50) Machiavelli diverges sharply from conventional Christianmorality, where reputation and appearances were expected to be grounded in fact. Nevertheless, this claim does uphold Machiavelli’s own morality of protecting and preserving