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Questions about how a society should be run have been debated throughout history. From early philosopher, Plato, who wrote about a successful republic to today?s most prominent republican, George W. Bush, the ideals of government have certainly changed. Added to the forum of debate are two Renaissance writers, Sir Thomas More and Nicolo Machiavelli. Machiavelli?s book, The Prince, a guide to how a prince should run his nation, exhibits the fact that human nature is inherently selfish. In contrast, Sir Thomas More?s book, Utopia, a description of the ideal human society, demonstrates that human nature cannot be selfish to create a Utopia and is neither good nor evil but develops according to the society that the person is raised in. In comparing Utopia and The Prince, many conflicting issues arise, such as whether a leader like Cesare Borgia or Commodus should be praised as glorious leaders, and what type of society were they built to govern, Machiavellian or Utopian. Another issue might be a laissez faire verses hands on government or how to deal with problems that arise between nations in either a Machiavellian or Utopian society. Throughout the discussion of theses topics, both authors outline their different views on human nature and use those philosophies to create their ideal government. With Machiavelli?s views on the inherent selfishness of human nature, a true Utopian cannot exist.
A Utopian government is gentle and fair in nature yet in Machiavelli?s more realistic society, this relaxed form of government would not survive. In other words, Utopia?s laissez faire approach is too weak of a system to control a naturally corrupt society. Both authors create a government that would function properly under whichever form of human nature they believe to be true. Therefore, in Machiavelli?s society there were many laws and regulations that were strictly enforced and harshly punished. The Utopians view the need for law differently: ? They very much condemn other nations, whose laws,? swell up to so many volumes; for they think it an unreasonable thing to oblige men to obey a body of laws that are both of such bulk and so dark as not to be read and understood by every one of the subjects? (Utopia, p.61). The Utopian society highlights the unwritten laws of morality that humans possess if they are raised in a society that promotes honesty and virtue. In this ideally principled community, a government with few laws would function smoothly, but in Machiavelli?s society would fail due to people?s inherent selfishness. People?s natural tendency to lie, cheat, and steal swells up without any restrictions, destroying not only their own community but also their government. Another governmental issue is how government deals with its criminals. Due to the abundant amount of laws that Machiavelli?s society enforces, it is implied that the treatment of criminals is harsh and strict. In Utopia, Raphael describes how this ideal society punishes its? criminals and then concludes: ?These are their laws and rules in relation to robbery; and it is obvious that they are? mild and gentle; since vice is not only destroyed, and men preserved, but they are treated in such a manner as to make them see the necessity of being honest? (Utopia, p.14). The irony of the fact that More provides laws for criminals that should not exist if Utopia were truly a perfect society solidifies Machiavelli?s argument that men are evil, not matter how pleasant a society raises them. But, there are criminals in Utopia, and its? governments ability to correct men?s vices permits Utopia to maintain its? ideal form and orderly way of life. But with this inescapably corrupt nature, achieving this unchanging level of moral and only a government with a firm criminal system will suffice. In The Prince, Machiavelli outlines why an absolute government with forceful laws can control men: ?For love attaches men by ties of obligation, which, since men are wicked, then break whenever their interests are at stake? (The Prince, p.52). All men have weak characters and therefore need gui
Names mentioned in this term paper
Nicolo Machiavelli, Sir Thomas More?s, early philosopher, George W. Bush,
Organizations referenced in this paper
ideal human society, government,
Locations mentioned in this term paper
Keywords referenced in this term paper
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