Machiavelli and the liberalism of fear

Thomas Osborne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
569 Downloads (Pure)


This article revisits the long-standing question of the relations between ethics and politics in Machiavelli’s work, assessing its relevance to the ‘liberalism of fear’ in particular in the work of Judith Shklar, Bernard Williams and also John Dunn. The article considers ways in which Machiavelli has been a ‘negative’ resource for liberalism – for instance, as a presumed proponent of tyranny; but also ways in which even for the liberalism of fear he might be considered a ‘positive’ resource, above all around the issues of political necessity and prudential judgement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-85
Number of pages18
JournalHistory of the Human Sciences
Issue number5
Early online date7 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • ethics
  • history of ideas
  • liberalism of fear
  • Niccolò Machiavelli
  • political theory


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