The Power of the Prince

Topics: Justification

The famous book “The Prince” was written by Niccoló Machiavelli in 1513. The book is about giving his advice to princes, lords, and kings about how to rule. Many people may interpret him as a moral utilitarian, which means you can use any kind of morality, whether it is good or bad to justify its ends. He explains more about his utilitarian point of view in his famous quote, “It’s always better to be feared than to be loved.” (page 60) The main focus on this quote is the latter half of it; the first part sets a very strong and declarative tone while the second part loosens it up.

Those who are loved more than they are feared are more susceptible to being walked over, while those who are feared more than they are loved are less susceptible to being walked over. In other words, if you have to choose between one or the other, it’s better to choose fear, it’s safer to choose fear because if you are in a vulnerable situation, especially in times like the 1500s, when nations are constantly being taken over, attacked, and spied on it’s better to be feared.

But he says repeatedly in the book that every time you have a chance to be good or to be loved, do it.

Something that he says specifically, “A prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared while he is not hated, which will always be as long as he abstains from despoiling the property of his citizens, and from their women.

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But when he must execute someone, he should do it only with proper justification and for a manifest reason. But above all things, he must keep his hands off the property of others because men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.” (page 60) So Machiavelli has a limit to his moral utilitarianism that he used in a small way. He sets the limit that if a king is going to kill somebody he should have a justification for it, and he talks about going into war with nations in that same manner and that the only good war, is a just war. With that being said, Machiavelli believes that a good leader cannot be just a morally ambiguous person, and he has to have some objective moral principles.

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The Power of the Prince. (2022, Jun 24). Retrieved from

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