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[Spiritual and intellectual crises and social and political disruption in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe elicited three of the canonical texts of political philosophy. The Prince, Leviathan, and the Second Treatise advance a conception of the human condition and of the role of the...
[The Prince, Machiavelli says, imparts lessons learned from his experience in politics and from extensive reading. Upon their return to power in 1512, the Medici dismissed Machiavelli from his post in the Florentine government as too republican in his sympathies. He turned to the pen as a way to...
[On his own account, Hobbes was preoccupied with living a secure life. Fear of violent death informs all that he wrote about politics. In the absence of strong government, he contended, men and women would be in constant fear of their lives. In that belief, he argued for the establishment of...
[A reading of the Second Treatise reveals Locke’s commitment to individual rights, representative government, and popular consent to government as less than robust and his assertion of a right to revolution as much qualified. Any assertion of such ideas, however tame, in the circumstances of the...
[Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke make the problem of political obligation the central concern of political philosophy. The Prince takes up the problem as an empirical one: How can the citizenry be brought to obey the law? However much coercion and the serving of interest encourage obedience, they...
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