Machiavelli at 500: From Cynic to Vigilant Supporter of International Law

Ratio Juris 28 (2):242-251 (2015)
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Machiavelli's 500-year-old treatise The Prince outlined the central features of the realist tradition in international relations. His premises led him to question the likelihood of efficacious and stable international law and international courts, a skepticism that has present-day proponents. Machiavelli's reluctance was due to a combination of features of human nature and a focus on anarchic features of the relations among states. This article challenges these assumptions and implications: Other interpretations of human nature are closer to Machiavelli's text, and current relations among states are significantly different. The revised assumptions should make Machiavelli's followers more optimistic about international law and international courts



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Andreas Follesdal
University of Oslo

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