The paper "Virtue In The Prince By Machiavelli" is a great example of a book review on politics. The Prince by Machiavelli presents key issues in relation to politics and how leaders are supposed to rule based on aspects such as fortune and virtue. Machiavelli clearly presents the essential characteristics that rulers are supposed to have in The Price and his in his other writings. One of the primary qualities that govern politics and princes is a virtue, which Machiavelli uses to mean having prudence, strength, intelligence, and skills (Neal, 1967). Neal (1967) also states that according to Machiavelli, the value of virtue is dependent on the context and what the final performance present.
Besides, Machiavelli through his writings present virtue as a characteristic that many people deem paramount. However, many have not been able to present effective analysis of how he employs the concept of virtue and its importance in The Prince. This paper presents an argument on how virtue is one of the main issues in the prince but first a review of how many scholars have defined virtue is provided. Virtue can have many meanings according to Machiavelli and other scholars.
According to many philosophers, virtue is what defines the good life and is significant of a normative nature, it can, therefore, be hard to identify sometimes in The Prince. It can also be defined as a political ability that enables leaders or rulers to achieve the set political objectives and goals. Virtue can also be a utility or physical strength. All these definitions are directed to mean virtue since it can also be paired with other aspects such as fortune and vice.
The distinction between fortune and virtue is an important piece in The Price and most of the other writings by Machiavelli (Sydney, 1993). In Chapter 8 of The Prince, Machiavelli uses Agathocles to present moral virtue (Rafael, 2007). He describes Agathocles as one that was always involved in crime life at all ranks that he has had in his political life. Nevertheless, Agathocles crimes were dependent on the virtue of both body and spirit. His most successful criminal act was murdering the rich and the senators of Syracuse.
According to Machiavelli, he writes about Agathocles that, "one cannot call it a virtue to kill one's citizens, betray one's friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; these modes can enable one to acquire an empire, but not glory. For, if one considers the virtue of Agathocles in entering into and escaping from dangers, and the greatness of his spirit in enduring and overcoming adversities, one does not see why he has to be judged inferior to any most excellent captain” (Machiavelli, 1985). It is ironic that Agathocles has a virtue yet he also does not have.
In some sense, Agathocles has the virtue of skill but lacks the virtue of morality, and these can be clearly distinguished in the way Machiavelli presents him(Rafael, 2007). However, Machiavelli presents the virtue of morality later in Chapter 15. He states that "if one considers everything well, one will find something appears to be a virtue, which if pursued would be one's ruin, and something else appears to be a vice, which if pursued results in one's security and well-being" (Machiavelli, 1985).
From this statement, it is clear that Machiavelli brings out virtue through pleasures of the world such as one’ s wellbeing and security. He presents a clear distinction between moral virtue and vice (Rafael, 2007). As stated earlier virtue can be incorporated with other aspects and in this case vice is the aspect. Nevertheless, Machiavelli clearly presents a difference between vice and virtue. Another important issue related to vice from the statement is the fact that there can be errors as a virtue can appear as something without it being that thing.
This issue can lead to making errors especially when it comes to reaching ethical conclusions and judgment. Cognitive abilities can be possessed by leaders, which can make them not to understand why some ethical judgments are wrong. Through his statement, Machiavelli is seen to be interpreting virtue through authority and introspection. Flawed intuition leads to the failure of many in recognizing virtue. Therefore, there is always a dilemma in moral virtue. This dilemma is presented in the failure to distinguish when to go with traditional rules and authorities and what is morally right.
It is, however, clear that religion is not a good educator when it comes to moral virtue as it presents material ruin as one of the effects of moral virtue. Significantly, Machiavelli presents moral virtue in a utilitarian and consequential sense in that the worldly being of a person cannot be affected by moral virtue. He, therefore, provides a limit in the meaning and explanation of moral virtue. The way Machiavelli considers virtue in The Prince clearly indicates its importance as one of the central concerns.