Aristotle on Equality and Justice: His Political Argument by W. von Leyden

By W. von Leyden

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By W. von Leyden

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Extra info for Aristotle on Equality and Justice: His Political Argument

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This, as we have seen, can occur in different kinds of context, indicated either by Aristotle's categories or by various other types of discourse, each with a unique character and with its own descriptive as well as logical form. Aristotle is right in pointing out that 'equal', no less than 'exist', is too incomplete a formula to contain information about reality. He considers that in order to be fully descriptive, these phrases have to be employed in connection with propositions asserting matters of fact under either one or the other of the categories.

In Book VI, Chapter 4 of the Politics, Aristotle advances further reasons for his preference for an agrarian democracy: it ensures (a) a system ofbalance, (b) a sense of responsibility, and (c) government conducted by men of quality. In his opinion, a peasant population, excelling as it does in vigour and robust physique, has the additional advantage of making good soldiers. The people which form the three other varieties of democracy are, in Aristotle's view, of a much poorer stamp. As he points out, none of the occupations embraced by mechanics, shopkeepers and day-labourers leaves room for excellence of any sort.

79 As opposed to claims by the people generally, Aristotle also sees some justice in those made on behalf of the most able. In some sense, he argues, persons with special training are better judges and possibly even better citizens than the amateur; it would therefore be wrong to grant political authority to a large number of ordinary men rather than to persons with professional skills. Aristotle offers no answer to the argument about 'shoes pinching', though it could be maintained that, even if the common man knows whether or how his shoe pinches, only the expert has the answer to where or why it pinches, and what the remedies are.

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