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Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict

Edited by: David Johnston, Nadia Urbinati, and Camila Vergara
More than five hundred years after Machiavelli wrote The Prince, his landmark treatise on the pragmatic application of power remains a pivot point for debates on political thought. While scholars continue to investigate interpretations of The Prince in different contexts throughout history, from the Renaissance to the Risorgimento and Italian unification, other fruitful lines of research explore how Machiavelli’s ideas about power and leadership can further our understanding of contemporary political circumstances.

With Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict, David Johnston, Nadia Urbinati, and Camila Vergara have brought together the most recent research on The Prince, with contributions from many of the leading scholars of Machiavelli, including Quentin Skinner, Harvey Mansfield, Erica Benner, John McCormick, and Giovanni Giorgini. Organized into four sections, the book focuses first on Machiavelli’s place in the history of political thought: Is he the last of the ancients or the creator of a new, distinctly modern conception of politics? And what might the answer to this question reveal about the impact of these disparate traditions on the founding of modern political philosophy? The second section contrasts current understandings of Machiavelli’s view of virtues in The Prince. The relationship between political leaders, popular power, and liberty is another perennial problem in studies of Machiavelli, and the third section develops several claims about that relationship. Finally, the fourth section explores the legacy of Machiavelli within the republican tradition of political thought and his relevance to enduring political issues.

Author Information

David Johnston teaches political philosophy at Columbia University. He is the author, most recently, of A Brief History of Justice. Nadia Urbinati is the Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory at Columbia University and the author of several books, including, most recently, The Tyranny of the Moderns. Camila Vergara is a PhD candidate in political science at Columbia University.


Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict offers readers a series of invaluable essays that represent the most important trends in contemporary scholarship on Machiavelli. Johnston, Urbinati, and Vergara have assembled a remarkable group of scholars, including several whose recent contributions are not widely available in English, and the diverse essays in the book carry on a highly engaging conversation with one another with a coherence that one seldom sees in an anthology. The editor’s introduction is well-written and exhaustive, offering a clear picture of the reception of Machiavelli’s writing from the time of its original publication to the recent ‘renaissance’ of Machiavelli scholarship.”
— Filippo Del Lucchese, Brunel University London

“The contributors to Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict bring a diversity of approaches to bear on the works of Machiavelli. Among them are Harvey Mansfield, who has written an elegant analysis of the idea of necessity; Miguel Vatter, who develops the similarities between Machiavelli and al-Farabi vis-à-vis The Art of War; Quentin Skinner, who offers a fine-grained analysis of the crucial concept of virtue; and Gabriele Pedullà, who gives a highly textured account of the possible foils Machiavelli alludes to in the Discourses on Livy, and many others that will set the volume apart from many other such collections. Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict will be welcomed by classicists and scholars in Renaissance studies, as well as political theorists.”
— Christopher Lynch, Carthage College

"The volume presents a wide range of approaches and interpretations . . . Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict performs the sort of disagreement that Berlin catalogued, a performance that is particularly apt given the centrality of conflict to the volume’s title."
— Perspectives on Politics

Audience: Professional and scholarly;