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Political Science
Course Code
Ryan Balot

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POL200Y1Y L5101 1
R. Balot
L12: Politics III
June 18, 2009
6:06 PM
Today's Lecture
Kingship + Absolute Monarchy (Pambasileia)
Books 7-8: Preliminaries
7 .1-3 Politics + Philosophy
Practical Provisions Military, Property, and Education
Aristotle's Social Democracy + Criticisms of A's Best Polis
Aristotle on Justice and Democracy (contd from last
Political power were distributed (according to Aristotle) based on a conception of the
purposes/telos of the polis
oThis theory only makes sense if you consider the polis to be a corporate unit
devoted to a single end
Grave disputes about the purpose can of course derail this telos based conception
oYet a difference from us is that they still believe there is a telos
oThis could be the situation in Corcyra: everyone agreed Corcyra should have
a telos but they disputed over what it should be
2nd problem
oCould citizens believe that there shouldn't be a telos at all?
This is closer to Glaucon's
That it should simply exist to prevent injustice through law or make
commerce possible
oThis is closer to our own conception as well
The problem is that people of different cities could be said to be of the
same city
The polis cannot be simply a defensive alliance
It must (for Aristotle) possess a deeper understanding of what it is
about and how it will educate its citizens
In [3.10] he shows us that many problems will persist
oWhat group rules in the city, others will always feel disadvantaged (and this
may be legitimate)
oThe fact that one group is in power and follows its own laws is good BUT
This will not get us far because laws themselves can be tilted towards
the benefit of a select few or group . Therefore an entire legal system can
benefit a particular group!
oHence, simple procedural justice cannot be the answer to the questions of
who should rule and what justice is

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POL200Y1Y L5101 2
R. Balot
In [3.11] page 112
oAristotle is attracted to the law as a neutral arbiter between disputes.
oYet he also recognizes that laws can be framed incorrectly or in the interests
of the rulers
This discussion leads into democracy and the inadequacy of procedural justice
[3.11] ordinary citizens may have a claim to power. They have virtues as a collective
oHis Summation Argument (Pages 108-109) "for where there are many"
oThe wisdom of the many
This may help to defuse the platonic arguments that denigrate the
idea of popular wisdom and emphasize the importance of philosophical
expertise in politics
Therefore, Aristotle here is strongly departing from the platonic idea
This is the beginnings of deliberative democracy
Aristotle also has worries about democratic rule
o[4.4-4.6] and the beginnings of book 6 [6.1-6.5]
oAccording to Aristotle the best forms of democracy are those that require and
permit the least amount of involvement from citizens in the everyday political
process. This is, the rule of law.
Even the types of democracy that have a profited qualification, not a full democracy
(aka extreme democracy) only the ones where most citizens can (not the riff raff). This
is actually an anti-democratic conception of democracy. There is a lack of total and
absolute equality. The best case of democracy has the rule of law
oBut the worst case is a democracy run lawlessly: where people's decrees are
the final basis of decisions. He is worried that their decrees will be arbitrary and
the moderating powers of law will not be in place
oHe is worried about the immoderation of a democracy
Athenian orators would have never accepted Aristotle's unpopulist conception of
democracy. They held that there were political equals in democracy. They weren't socio-
economic equals. But they were equal before, equal in rendering justice, equal in voting,
speaking in the assemblies etc. This was a thickly democratic ideal.
oNote that the democratic Athenians were willing to criticize themselves
oNote the Mytilean debate
oThis may be why ancient democracy would be a better resource for
democratic thinking than Aristotelian theory
Aristotle has a certain elitist perspective
Polity is the rule of many people in the interests of the whole
oWhy is this so desirable? Is it practical? Is his thought beset by utopianism
The least utopian
oThe best practical constitution [4.7-11]

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POL200Y1Y L5101 3
R. Balot
oPolity is a mixture of democracy and oligarchy
oThis type of constitution differs from aristocracy or democracy
oPolity is a constitution where many rule for the common good but they lack
the educations of virtue which citizens of the aristocracy of B 7-8 will have
oPolity is the best option for the world that we know
oThis is assuming that we won't have a new colonial foundation that doesnt
use book 7-8
oPolity can be sought in the ordinary democracy
It is a good regime for ordinary people. It is stable. This stability is
produced by its properly mixed institutions. This is a mixed constitution.
At [4.9] Aristotle says that polity should look as thought it contains
both democratic/oligarchic elements but also neither
Sparta is something like a polity
oIts constitution was very difficult for ancients to classify. Aristotle says this is
because how Sparta looked
oRousseau classified Sparta as democracy
oEveryone is satisfied as they feel they have justice and civic friendship
oSparta may be the correct type of mixture
Though it is not in itself the correct type of constitution
Democracy features and changes
oThe rich want a change in democracy, they feel they are being oppressed
oThe rich dont find justice in democracy and fear the poor
oPolity - contrasted to democracy - approaches aristocracy (no democracy can
approach aristocracy)
The polity is the least good but the most achievable
Question: Rhetoric as political potential
For too long we have been under the sway of the Thucydidian Platonic critique of
Rhetoric - as simply empty words
But Rhetoric can provide helpful avenues for achieving democracy
oDaniel Allan, Simone Chambers
Question: is Canada a polity?
It is a mixed constitution in practice, but theoretically a monarchy.
Kingship + Absolute Monarchy
Kingship, at its best, is the best
But it is the least achievable
Kingship also takes many different forms
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