Civic republicans have traditionally appealed to friendship as a means of preserving popular liberty, but Machiavelli is a notable exception to this rule. In fact, I argue, he views efforts to reconcile friendship and politics as (1) philosophically dubious, because grounded in false conceptions of person and society, and (2) practically harmful, because they perpetuate patterns of asymmetric dependence that are inconsistent with a free way of life. Machiavelli's neglected skepticism about the political potential of friendship deepens his critique of the Ciceronian concordia, reveals a diminished idea of the common good, and distances him from the civic republican tradition to which he is so often said to belong.
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