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Aristotle's Political Theory

Instead of being necessary conditions of statehood, as are citizens, non-office holders are merely integral parts.

Aristotle argues that men form states based on three basic interests: natural impulses toward a social life (friendship and marriage, for example), common interest in a good life (happiness and self-sufficiency), and a valuation of life itself (the simple act of living). In addition, men generally operate under three basic types of rule: master/slave, where rule is primarily exercised in the master's interest; household management, where rule is primarily exercised in the ruler's (paternal) interest; and political office, where rule is primarily exercised for the benefit of the ruled. Aristotle holds that the most important interest men seek to fulfill by forming states is the common interest in a good life. Consequently, those constitutions that operate for the benefit of this common interest are the best and most just constitutions, while those that operate only in the personal interest of the rulers are unjust constitution operating as perversions. Of the three types of rule under which men operate, only one can serve as the basis for a just constitution: rule by political office.

Aristotle lists the three forms of just constitutions as kingship, aristocracy, and polity (military). The perversions of the above-stated forms, tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy, respectively, adopt the master/slave relationship and operate solely in the ruler's interest (tyranny), privilege the wealthy minority over the common interest (oligarchy) or alternatively privilege the poor majority (democracy). None of these forms is focussed solely on rewarding citizens relative to their contribution to the state's purpose. In their proper forms, the three forms of just constitutions meet Aristotle's requirement that a just distribution of power under a constitution must ensure that the relative values of the offices, honors and ...

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Aristotle's Political Theory. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:19, November 25, 2015, from
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