“Moral dualism” in Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince: a critical analysis

  • Anthony Nwaigbo
Keywords: Moral, Dualism, Machiavelli, Ethics, Politics, The Prince


This article titled, "Moral Dualism‟ in Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince: A Critical Analysis, appraises the interplay between ethics and politics in Machiavelli‟s text, The Prince in order to discover the cogent reasons for the justification of his implicit contention for 'moral dualism,' or the notion that public morality is different from private morality. Through a critical analysis of the contending ethical issues in Machiavelli's notion of politics in The Prince, this article agrees with Machiavelli's implicit position that there is a distinction between public morality and private morality. This latter position is grounded on the idea that public morality as the morality of success in political governance normally involves intelligent considerations of a moral framework and political expediency, while private morality as the morality of good conduct in ordinary sphere of the private life is rooted in traditional norms of the society. It, however, faults Machiavelli's excessive recommendation of the use of non-moral means as apparatus of political expediency since it promotes power drive in human beings. This article finally attempts to vindicate Machiavelli's predilection for success in political governance on the ground that since the state primarily exists for the common purpose of securing human life and property, preserving the state according to situational needs is of superior obligation to any other. In an attempt to rectify moral problems associated with political governance in general, this article recommends that it is necessary to legislate properly and to restructure the existing political institutions with commonly shared ethical values when necessary.

Keywords: Moral, Dualism, Machiavelli, Ethics, Politics, The Prince


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eISSN: 1119-443X