final exam review

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Ryan Balot

Final Exam ReviewPOL 200 Y 1 Y (1) Compare and contrast Cicero and Machiavelli on generosity. How does Machiavelli criticize Ciceros assertion that generosity is both just and beneficial? While for Cicero, obligations were the focus of politics, for Machiavelli, a leaders obligations to his people were merely an instrumental means of establishing political power. This accounts for the differences between Ciceros conception of generosity on the one hand, and Machiavellis 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 leaders 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 generous. 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 statejustice. 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 citizensit 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 justicein 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 www.notesolution.comhumanity). 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 ones 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. Ciceros 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 Machiavellis 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 principalityrepublic. So ultimately, the principalityrepublic is united by the Prince himself (in particular by the leaders efficacious character, called virt), not by any obligation to justice, much less to generosity. In fact, no obligations exist in the principalityrepublic 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 societys 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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