Being a Good Ruler in a Deviant Community: Aristotle's Account of the Polity

Polis: The Journal of the Society for the Study of Greek Political Thought, 27(1), 58-79

By Elena Irrera

Abstract: In 'Politics' III, 4.1277a15-16 Aristotle presents 'phronesis' as the characteristic excellence of the good ruler. Difficulties arise when we consider that, on his view, a good ruler should 'always' be loyal to his constitution ('Politics' V, 9.1309a34), even when its prescriptions are contrary to moral goodness. This paper investigates the condition of a wise ruler in imperfect communities by attempting to answer the following questions: (i) Would a wise ruler be capable of retaining his practical wisdom in a deviant community and stay loyal to the constitution? (ii) Can the quality of any deviant 'polis' be improved by the ruler's practical wisdom without losing its distinctive nature? It is argued that Aristotle believes in the possibility of improving a deviant constitution compatibly with its preservation, and that such a possibility does not undermine the ruler's practical wisdom. The only one constitution that leaves this possibility open is the polity.

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(Something interesting I found)Posted:Apr 01 2011, 12:00 AM by Anna Gomberg
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