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The notion of the common good has been one of the leading themes of Machiavelli scholarship, yet there is no systematic study devoted to it. The aim of this article is to explore Machiavelli's understanding of the common good and to demonstrate how problematic his approach is. First, even in its form as an ideal the notion has an ambiguous meaning that can easily become intrinsically discrepant. Second, political reality makes the ideal practically impossible to embody. Third, as a motivational goal of political activity and patriotic inspiration the common good is blurred by partial and individual interests. Finally, it can be an instrument of deception and exploitation. It seems that these difficulties severely constrained Machiavelli's use of the notion of the common good which for him was probably too obscure to be a principal idea of political thinking.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: niversity of Massachusetts Lowell, Department of Philosophy, 101A Olney Hall One University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854-5042, USA waldemar_hanasz

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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