Machiavelli and War
The entire post was revised, all premises changed and conclusion changed and examinations changed
“A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the art.”
– The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (Page 67)
Note: This only applies to the types of government that Niccolò observed in his book “The Prince”, which was written in 1505, therefore any governments that exist at this time may not follow this logic. In addition, he only observed principalities in his book or in other words, governments governed by princes. Meaning that this logic only applies to the government type principality.
I have had trouble finding the premises for Machiavelli’s argument, clearly it is very complex, most likely due to his time in exile with the Medici family. This article aided me in finding some of the premises, it gives a well done short description of Machiavelli’s political career as well as his writings.
Syllogistic Logic: (all, some, no, not, is/are)
Premises 1: Some war grants power
Premises 2: All power grants control
Premises 3: All princes need control
Premises 4: All knowledge of war grants power
Premises 5: All ignorance of war drains power
Premises 6: All study grants knowledge
Conclusion: Therefore princes should use the study war in order to maintain and gain power and avoid losing it as power grants control.
Reminder: In a principality government, the prince is in control, meaning if he loses his power/control, then he will be overthrown.
Examination of Factual Correctness:
Premises 1: This is also correct, as wars that are won do grant and sustain power.
Premises 2: This statement is also correct, clearly any from of power grants some control even if minute.
Premises 3: Again true, if a prince in a principality loses control of his government then he will be overthrown.
Premises 4: This is a little opinionated, but still for the most part true when governing a principality in 1505.
Premises 5: Again correct when considering the logic applies to 1505.
Premises 6: This statement is correct.
Factually Correct: Yes
Examination of Validity via Substitution and Counterexamples:
Premises 1: Some T grants U.
Premises 2: All U grants V.
Premises 3: All W need V.
Premises 4: All X of T grants U.
Premises 5: All Y of T drains U.
Premises 6: All Z grants X.
Conclusion: Therefore W should use Z of T in order to gain and maintain U and avoid losing it as all U grants V.
Premises 1: Some guns grant power
Premises 2: All power grants control
Premises 3: All generals need control
Premises 4: All knowledge of guns grants power
Premises 5: All ignorance of guns drains power
Premises 6: All experience grants knowledge
Conclusion: Therefore generals should use their experience with guns in order to maintain power and avoid losing it as power grants control
Machiavelli’s argument does not admit this counterexample and most likely many others therefore making his argument valid.
Machiavelli’s argument is sound, and considering he spent much time alone during his exile, I would assume his argument is well built. I would say that most of his ideas originated from the Medici family and literature on Roman history; as clearly indicated in his book “The Prince“. He has a very devious nature and often suggests in his book that treachery and deception are necessary to maintain a position of power. Either way, he has powerful arguments built upon Italian history.