Contrary to popular conception, Niccolò Machiavelli’s advisory precepts are not immoral in intention. All prescriptive arguments are ought statements and as such fall, by definition, under the rubric of ethical argument. Machiavelli’s prescriptions are recommended means toward the most ethically desirable outcome for what in contemporary parlance we’d term the end user.
Whether the precepts contained in the his works do indeed lead to this goal or whether that end itself is desirable for the larger community are matters for analysis. Yet those critiques do not invalidate the essential aim of the Prince as a treatise in the service of an outcome–an outcome that Machiavelli would have considered to be morally correct.
A. Darius Kamali