Five-Page paper

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Five-Page paper

In discussing classical republican political theory we often focus on the “origins” or “foundings” of republics.

In this paper, using Machiavelli’s ideas about how the most stable and longest-lived republic (or nation) develops, discuss what he argues the founders of a republic must consider.

Your paper may address or develop a thesis around the following questions. You need not be comprehensive or fully address all of them. Use them as a guide for reviewing and thinking about the material. You may find other themes in the texts as well.

  • Is violence necessary to founding a republic?
  • How is violence “best used” in Machiavelli’s view?
  • Is justice an issue for Machiavelli?
  • What is the relationship between morality and politics?
  • What is the difference between virtue and “virtú”?
  • What is the role of “reputation” or appearances in the craft of ruling?
  • What are the measures of success?
  • Why is a mixed republic the best form?
  • What is the role of institutions?
  • What is the role of “the people”?

The main thing to remember is that you must show the reader that you have read and developed an independent understanding of the materials. Comparing it to what you think is happening in contemporary contexts is a good strategy for developing a thesis and a theme for the paper.

Your paper must have a thesis. You must follow up on that thesis throughout the body of the paper (do not get distracted).

You should conclude the paper by identifying for the reader the significance of the discussion about political foundings. You may place the discussion in whatever context you find interesting and pointed to in the introduction (something about the contemporary world, something about a historical event of significance, or something from your own political experience). This will probably mean that you should rewrite the introduction after completing the paper because ideas will come to you as you write.

Your conclusion should point the reader back to the introduction and thesis while building on what you say in the introduction. This is often done by reviewing what you did in the paper and then building a bit by putting it into context, as I say in the paragraph above.

Another “rule” that we have not discussed enough is: KEEP IT SIMPLE. We are helping you work on the craft of writing about, in this case, Machiavelli’s, ideas in a coherent, respectful, and critical fashion. Do your best to reflect your understanding in your own words and in a focused manner, and then say a bit about that in your intro/conclusion.

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