Machiavelli's Use Of Lying And Deception In Politics

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One aspect of Machiavelli’s theory which significantly contributes to his reputation as the “philosopher of evil,” is his advice to the prince on keeping their word to the public. In chapter eighteen, Machiavelli states, “a wise ruler cannot, and should not, keep his word when doing so is to his disadvantage, and when the reasons that led him to promise to do so no longer apply” (pg. 37). To simplify, Machiavelli says princes are obligated to lie in certain circumstances. He also states that while it is unnecessary for the prince to have positive qualities, such as honesty, trustworthiness, sympathy, compassion, or be religious, it is essential for the prince to be viewed so by the public (pg. 37). While many people argue that Machiavelli’s legitimization of lying and deception in politics is immoral, I argue the opposite. The use of lying and deception in politics is moral, because they are essential tools utilized by politicians to maintain the overall wellbeing of the society. There are numerous examples of politicians lying and deceiving to maintain the well-being of the public. For example, Abraham Lincoln, a president beloved by the American people, stated to the public that he “didn't believe in political equality for slaves because he didn't want to get too far ahead of public opinion.” Although he despised slavery, it was necessary for him, as the leader of the Union, to lie in order to maintain the support of the four…show more content…
However, it is important to separate lying and deception that endangers the wellbeing of the society, from those that benefit society. Upon reading Machiavelli’s The Prince, it is easy, especially in today’s society, to dismiss his arguments as immoral or wicked. However, upon further inspection, much of his theory, such as his justification for lying, is morally correct and highly applicable to politics
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