What do modern republics have to fear? Machiavelli's Florentine Republic reconstructs Machiavelli's answer to this question from the perspective of the Florentine Histories, his most probing meditation on the fate of republican politics in the modern age. It argues that his principle goal in narrating the defeat of Florentine republicanism is to debunk the views of leading humanists concerning the overall health of republican politics in modernity and the distinctive challenges that modern republics should expect to face. The Medici family had exposed these vulnerabilities better than anyone else, and Machiavelli reconstructs their political strategy to show how conventional ideas of moral and political virtue are the most potent instruments of princely ambition in a city that wants to be free.
This article argues that the early chapters of Machiavelli's Discourses constitutes a deliberate rejection of the ways in which Rome had been described and evaluated in the humanist political literature of the quattrocento and especially Poggio Bracciolini's Oration on Behalf of Venice. While agreeing with Poggio that early humanist portraits of Rome had been too idealized to be historically accurate, Machiavelli criticizes Poggio's own more critical view of Roman republicanism on both historical and theoretical grounds. Adapted from the source document.
This article argues that Skinnerian contextualism is an unsuccessful attempt to develop a truly methodical approach to textual interpretation. According to Skinner, the various 'mythologies' that he associates with textualism are due to its misplaced confidence in the faculty of judgment. Whereas textualists believe that an interpreter's own judgment is his or her most useful tool in attempting to understand a text, contextualism proceeds from the assumption that we cannot help but make faulty judgments when confronted with historical materials given the nature of human cognition. Having dissociated itself from textualism on these grounds, contextualism attempts to repair the defects of textualism by minimizing the role of judgment in interpretive practice. As this article will show, these efforts have been fruitless. Moreover, Skinner's attempt to reinforce contextualism by importing claims about the strategic motives behind philosophical argumentation is either incoherent or unconvincing. Adapted from the source document.