Who we are

ARS RoSA (Reason of State Archive)

ARS-RoSA is a research group dedicated to the study of reason of State and Democracy with the aim of investigating reason of State theories as well as the reasons of the State and of States in their theoretical, historical and institutional features and in their relations with constitutionalist theories, sovereignty conceptions and political systems.

ARS-RoSA therefore brings together scholars in history, philosophy, political science, sociology, literature, law. Although by respecting the disciplinary traditions and their respective methodologies, our activities have an interdisciplinary and multilevel nature and are framed by the need to confront the challenges, limits and perspectives of our societies and of the democratic government in the current historical phase.

 Our main areas of interest are:

  • theories of reason of State, as well as the ethical, political and institutional implications of those different conceptions for democratic societies;
  • democratic government and governance, with a focus on current political and institutional innovations;
  • technological, scientific, socio-economic innovations that mark our present and which, by their implications, are changing the forms, the language and the practices of politics and political life.

Reason of State

The expression reason of State belongs to the language and political culture of the late Renaissance. It is still commonly used to indicate the use of force, secrecy or exceptional instruments by the holder of political power driven by the need to maintain personal rule, to guarantee order in society or the security of the State.

By the end of Sixteenth century, the expressions of Raison d’État, Reason of State, Razon de Estado, Staatsräson translated in different languages the Italian ragion di stato. These translations showed the adaptation of a new concept to specific political and institutional contexts. Most recent research has shown how reason of state theories and policies that spanned through the European continent are part of a broader process of political rationalization. By reflecting on reason of the State, both politicians as writers helped to conceptualize and therefore produce the State itself. In this sense, while the literature of Reason of State only partially belongs to the history of political Aristotelianism, it does not of fully fit into the framework drawn by modern theories of sovereignty, as it is properly a reflection on the State based on a rationalization of the “arts” of government and rule. Reason of state has therefore been intertwined with the development of the modern State, whatever institutional form it has assumed from time to time.

To further investigate today early modern theories of Reason of State, in the so-called “globalization”, may help us in understanding the reason of the State” or, in other words, the reasons by which the modern state was justified and governed. Likewise, in our present globalized world, the problems related to the art, techniques and technologies of government and self-government remain current. Therefore, the question of the ethical, juridical and normative implications between democracy, raison d’état and globalization cannot be ignored.


The relevance of recent the studies on reason of state and statecraft is part of the revival of a wider debate on the role of the State and on the forms of political democracy, in the context of the so-called globalization. The debates around the crisis (or the fading, transformation) of the State in the early nineties of XXth century expressed the need to readdress its role within new forms of an emerging global governance. On the contrary, withing the political and economic crises of the first decade of the new millennium, the themes of security and sovereignty seems to bear witness to a return to the State as the main political actor in the global sphere, justifying a new attention to the arts of its preservation. In both cases, democracy has been interpreted as being “at risk”: either for the weakening of popular sovereignty, civic participation and representativeness of national institution, or for an excess of governability (up to the emerging of new forms of “authoritarian democracies”). Within this debate, we need to focus our attention to reason of State as it recalls the importance of an investigation on the reason of the democratic state and the techniques, procedures and forms of democratic governance. Moreover, any conception of the raison d’état – and of the reason of the state – brings along with it the distinction and the potential contraposition between moral and juridical normativity (the moral law and the rule of law), and a different normativity grounded on the efficacy of political action. In fact, even when exercised within a constitutional and democratic framework, reason of State always puts into tension the procedural dimension and the values of democracy. The research group therefore intends to analyse the ethical, political and institutional relevance of the different conceptions of reason of state and of the reasons of democratic States and societies in the current fragmented and discontented world. It also aims at investigating the challenges and transformation of today democracy from the point of view of the arts and techniques of democratic government.


In an era in which the horizon of the revolution seems to have vanished, and the modern idea of progress is greatly weakened, it is the idea of innovation that seems to express the need for change and transformation. Innovation is a polysemic word, certainly ambiguous, with which we broadly describe the act by which something is changed more or less radically. In the daily use, innovation is linked to technological change and to the transformative drive of goods and processes induced by the markets. Whether we mean it in relation to a technical device or a social process, every innovation, when understood in a more radical sense, appears as the index of changes in the relationship between man and himself, between man and his natural and social world, between men. In this sense, the idea of innovation can and should be subtracted from the dominance of the partiality of technological, or of product / process, changes to be taken as a critical tool for a more comprehensive effort of understanding ourselves and our present in our need for change and adaptation.

Through its activities and researches, the research group intends to exercise first of all a role of stimulus for the civil and democratic life as well as innovation of the fields and practices of political research. Starting from an investigation on the plurality of changes and transformations that, at different levels and around and within the fields traditionally reserved for politics, produce radical shifts in our social being, in the forms of life, in the ethical and political subjectivities.

The ARS RoSA Library

The research group holds a specialized collection on the themes of ragion di Stato, tacitism, machiavellism and a selected fund dedicated to democratic political theory. The RoSA fund consists of over 2000 volumes in the process of cataloguing, as well as an important collection of documental and digital material expressly dedicated to the many historical and theoretical variations of the theme of “ratio status”. The Democracy fund contains over 3500 volumes dedicated to the main aspects of democratic political theory. The funds are constantly enriched by new acquisitions resulting from the activities of the group, the contribution of the members and free donations from scholars, bodies and associations. The management and enrichment of the library is a priority for the group. For the purpose of strengthening its study and research activities, as well as its library and documentary heritage, the group has among its missions the construction of scientific and cultural collaborations with libraries, public and private research bodies and structures.

Our main activities:

  1. promote research, studies, education and civic engagement on the issues of state of reason, democracy and innovation;
  2. to take care of and enrich the Archive of State Reason and its library and documentary heritage;
  3. to promote partnerships and scientific collaborations with libraries, public and private research bodies and structures, research groups on related topics;
  4. to make the researches of the group and its scholars via the public and freely accessible through seminars, conferences and open publications
  5. promote the studies, research and activities of its members through the web and social communication channels