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final exam review

Political Science
Course Code
Ryan Balot
Study Guide

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Final Exam Review—POL 200 Y 1 Y
(1) Compare and contrast Cicero and Machiavelli on generosity. How does Machiavelli criticize
Cicero’s assertion that generosity is both just and beneficial?
While for Cicero, obligations were the focus of politics, for Machiavelli, a leader’s
obligations to his people were merely an instrumental means of establishing political
power. This accounts for the differences between Cicero’s conception of generosity on the one
hand, and Machiavelli’s conception on the other. For Cicero, generosity is conceived of as a
obligation as a matter of justice. For Machiavelli, generosity is not essentially a duty for the
leader at all, because the principle of social stability is the leader himself, not justice, much less
the leader’s obligations to his citizens. Accordingly, while leaders have a duty to be generous to
their citizens for Cicero, for Machiavelli a political leader ought to merely appear to be
For Cicero, all members of the state have a duty to be generous to one another. This is
given in light of the central principle of cohesion in the state—justice. It is for the fair
distribution of justice that the state is said to exist. In other words, the state exists for the sake
of virtue. The equality of citizens it to be established in light of their common obligations
present within the state. Justice, like all the virtues, is a matter of honour for Cicero. If we wish
to secure our own honour, and the honour of the state in general, we have an obligation to
be generous because we have an obligation to be just. By pursuing justice, we are rendered
honourable members of civil society, and even more generally, as members of the human
community. We do not pursue justice because it is merely useful to do so. Justice does not
exist for our own personal benefit. Rather, it exists as an end in itself. Justice is not established
as an overarching principle to which we appeal. Its establishment is seen as depending
exclusively on us, and on our actions toward other people, i.e. on our obligations. Thus justice
involves our obligations to other citizens—it is established by our obligations to other members
of civil society. It is due to this intricate connexion between justice and obligations that his work
as a whole is titled On Obligations. Since justice depends on us, it must depend on our duties to
others. Yet practically, what we owe to other members of civil society is a state of mutual
friendship and generosity. So generosity is a matter of justice—in failing to be generous, we
fail to be just. And since justice is the central principle of state cohesion, by voluntarily failing to
be generous, we commit an act of high-treason against the Patria. Generosity is a matter of
justice for it is by the mutual generosity of citizens that the Patria is rendered a cohesive
social unit.
Since generosity is a matter of justice, it is established as an obligation, a duty. Today,
generosity is not conceived of as an obligation at all since generosity is not a matter of justice. It
is hard for us to picture what Cicero meant by generosity since today, acts of generosity are
deemed to be matters of charity or beneficence. But it was not so for Cicero. Cicero holds
generosity to be a duty in light of his positive views on human nature. It is only natural for
human beings to live in a state of mutual friendship. It is, in a sense, the consequence of living
according to human nature. So generosity is owed our fellow human beings in light of our
common membership in the greater cosmopolitan community (i.e. in light of our common

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humanity). But it is also natural for human beings to form states given man is naturally
sociable. In fact, our membership in the state is even more fundamental than our membership in
the family, for Cicero. This provides a basis for Ciceronian patriotism, and it is with reference to
patriotic devotion that generosity takes on its meaning. Hence it follows that being generous to
other members of the state is a matter of justice, and therefore an obligation one assumes by
one’s very existence within a state. Ultimately, generosity is an integral principle to any state
because justice is the central principle of the state, and generosity is a matter of justice, and as a
matter of justice, it is a matter of honour.
Cicero’s claims about generosity are of stark contrast with Machiavellian claims. While it
may certainly be prudent for the political leader to appear generous so as to win the loyalty of
the people and power as a result, a political leader must never be generous with his people. This
presupposes Machiavelli’s views on the virtues as a whole. There is only one end of human life
on earth, and it is to achieve political power. So the virtues, like justice or generosity are not
conceived to be ends in themselves. They are merely instrumental means, employed for the
ultimate end of assuming political power. So whether or not a virtue is employed is a matter left
to the discretion of the one who employs it. We have no obligation to be virtuous. Accordingly,
generosity is not conceived of as being a duty for Machiavelli, much less as being a matter of
justice, for justice is entirely arbitrary for Machiavelli. It ought only be employed when it is the
best means to assuming power over the people. In other words, justice, as generosity, is merely
an instrumental appearance which we can employ or not employ at our disposal. It is a matter of
use. Like Cicero, the end of human life is the pursuit of honour. But honour in a very different
sense. For Machiavelli, the pursuit of honouw is the quest of obtaining political power. Hence
generosity, if it is to exist at all, should merely be an instrumental means to the ultimate end of
establishing political power, for Machiavelli. This is why if a political leader had to choose
between being generous on the one hand and being stingy on the other (i.e. did not have the
choice to merely appear generous), he should choose to be stingy. It is better to have the
reputation of stinginess and to be able to afford important (expensive) political projects (such as
developing the military), than to be generous and to be deprived of the resources necessary to
developing the principality/republic. So ultimately, the principality/republic is united by the
Prince himself (in particular by the leader’s efficacious character, called virtú), not by any
obligation to justice, much less to generosity. In fact, no obligations exist in the
principality/republic at all. This is why power must be obtained from the citizens by the use of
force so-as to provoke a state of fear, because without the clear establishment of fear among
members of the republic, citizens will lack any unity at all. It is necessary to exert force over the
people so-as to unite them since they have no natural obligations to each-other. This
characteristic lack of obligations in human nature, and subsequently of generosity, is even less
true of the relationship between the Princes and the people. This is why true Princes can resort to
the cruelest means conceivable to the human mind to secure their political interests, like killing
their own sons! If political leaders can resort to these means, obviously they have no obligations
to anyone, let alone to their people. In other words, for Machiavelli virtues like generosity are
not at all an end for which the republic exists; it is merely an instrumental means to society’s
ultimate end of acquiring land and ultimately, of establishing political power.
So while both Machiavelli and Cicero grant that generosity at least ought to exist in civil
society, they differ as to whether leaders have the duty to be generous. While generosity is a

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matter of justice for Cicero, and is therefore something we owe our fellow citizens, it
merely exists as a means to an end for Machiavelli, and is therefore not something we owe
to our fellow citizens, much less a Prince to his subjects
(2) Compare and contrast the views of political leadership found in the assigned readings from
Thucydides and Machiavelli, paying particular attention to the qualities that made good leaders
successful, and bad leaders unsuccessful. Be sure to use examples of specific leaders and
situations drawn from the Thucydides History, Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Machiavelli’s The
Discourses. (A fair presentation of the issue)
While Thucydides and Machiavelli both propose that a strong leader is a necessary condition to
preserving the unity of the polis/state, the motives of successful leaders are different for
Machiavelli than for Thucydides. For Thucydides, strong leaders whose qualities serve the
common good (such as Pericles) are seen as good leaders, while strong leaders whose
qualities serve their own interests, and not the interests of the people (such as Alcibaiades) are
seen as bad leaders. For Machiavelli, by contrast, effective leaders will be endowed with
those qualities that secure their own self interests and not the interests of the people
leaders should merely appear to act in the interests of the people. So while both Thucydides
and Machiavelli espouse strong leaders as a necessity for good government, they differ in their
respective reasons concerning why a strong leader governs in the first place. In light of this, the
practical qualities they propose are different.
Thucydides proposes that the establishment of strong leaders, not of any particular
governmental form, is a necessary condition for good government in the polis. It was in light
of Periclean leadership, not necessarily in light of Athens’ democratic form, for instance, that
Athens was deemed successful in the Persian War against King Cyrus of Persia. This makes
sense of why Corcyra, which was known to be a democratic city-state, deteriorated into a state of
anarchy. Since the Corcyrans lacked a strong leader, their form of government was no defense
against the impending threats of civil war. In this way, it was in light of Athenian leadership
alone, and not in light of Athenian democracy, that the basis of Athenian Imperial Power was
clearly established. What characterized Pericles as a good Athenian leader was his devotion to
securing his peoples’ common interests. It is in light of this devotion that Athenian democracy
was deemed successful. The qualities of successful Periclean leadership, namely his devotion to
the common cause of freedom (seen particularly in his moving “ Funeral Oration ”), his
devotion to reason (manifest by his employment of innovative means) and especially his
devotion to equality , all find their source in a devotion to the common interests of the people .
Ultimately, by securing the peoples’ interests through his leadership skills, he is able to ensure
that the common vision of the citizen body conform with his own interests. This provides the
basis of political stability, and subsequently, of political power.
Periclean leadership is a contrast from the leadership of Alcibaiades. While they are both
strong” leaders, Alcibaiadan leadership during the Sicilian expedition reveals why a leader’s
“strength” is not to be measured by his use of force, but by his devotion to the common
good. While Alcibaiades was certainly a strong leader (in the sense of his ability to exercise
brute strength), he was not a good leader. The Athenian defeat in Sicily was due to Alcibaiades
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