Political theory 13 november 2013.
Aristotle. Polity or the mixed regime.
I. Introduction. Recap
• Just and unjust regimes; class politics;regime change.
• Rule of law,superior judgments of the many over that of one
individual, economic activities of the general population
and its links to political capabilities.
II. The Mixed Regime or politeia
• Basic problem: most cities will have to settle for less than
perfect democracies or oligarchies BUT most of these are
inherently unstable given the pervasiveness of class
• Class warfare in part an outcome of competing conceptions
• Democratic justice = freedom and equality for all. Health
care for all people regardless of their social or economic
position. competing with it is oligarchy.
• Oligarchic justice=distribution on the basis of merit. it's fair
that people should have excess to more extensive care
and education if they have the capacity. even if it means
not every one has access. Aristotle kinda agrees and not
agrees. Class conflict can lead to political breakdown of
the city. (e.g.: syria).
• one should seek a way to promote stability as he says :
◦ IV, 11: ‘What regime is best and what way of life is best
for most cities and most human beings, judging
with a view neither to virtue of the sort that is
beyond private persons, nor to education, in respect
to those things requiring [special advantages provided by] nature and an equipment dependent
on chance, nor to the regime that one would pray
for, but a way of life which it is possible for most to
share in, and a regime of which most cities can
▪ So aristotle is suggesting that it should provide to
◦ IV, 12, 1297a6 “The better the mixture in the polity,
the more lasting it will be.”
▪ mixed in what way? ancient models of discovery
in different way. Not talking about selecting
legislature, it defines many theorist in classical
era, which is combing different ideas
of different constitutions. in the typology is
shown as good form of democracy, but later it
the polity becomes a mixture of democracy
and oligarchy(1V,8,1293B35) . They both are
◦ 1294b35 “In a polity that is finely mixed, the regime
should be held to be both- and neither. And it
should be preserve through itself, not from outside-
through itself not because those wishing its
preservation are a majority (since this might be the
case even in a base regime), but because none of
the parts of the city generally would wish to have
▪ it has to be self sufficient and self preserving. so
some degree of consensus, or legitimacy and
▪ Mixed regime is a type of mixed regimes.
◦ Theoretical basis for preference.
• Mixture of :
• a) laws/constitutional structure (3 ways this can be done); in
Book 4 chap 9
◦ Putting both together (e.g.. jury duty example-to both
pay the poor for service ad fine the wealthy for lack
of service), ◦ Find some mid-point between the two- a median
between high and low property qualifications.
◦ Taking aspects of both-eh oligarchic modes of election
but without property or income qualification.
• b) class composition- better if a larger middle class –why?;
◦ Book 4-11; "what is moderate and middling is best"
▪ 1- party because of effects of wealth on character
- overly everything makes it hard to
▪ 2- party due to the constraints of having to work
for a living book 4 chap 6 1292b26 - They have
other priorities, middle class is better with
equality and friendship
▪ 3- Most conducive to a sense of equality and
◦ But what does he means by 'middle class'? Aristotle is
most concerned about the socio economic status. if
you are too concerned you will be working to hard
or not going to have the moderate attitude needed
for citizenship. Has something more in mind, where
these concerns are a lesser, talking about a class
that is comfortable with what they are not
• c) conceptions of justice
◦ Combine democratic preference for numerical equality
and oligarchic preference for proportionate equality-
V,1. Decmocracy is more liberal. there is some
combination of numerical equality as long as the
meddling elements are substatial.
◦ Types of policies? -1V,14,1297B35 AND 1V,14,
1298B5- different functions for those chosen by
election and those chosen by lot; combine principles
of selection (both lot nd election),
combine facet of undifferentiated treatment and
◦ -Can this be adapted to thinking about accommodation in a multicultural context? in
question of cultural accommodation - it seems clear
that to do justice they require a combination of
individual rights (charter of right- every one
deserves the same treatment) and some
importance of recognizing different cultures.
arguably to best accommodate one must mix
individual rights and importance
of different cultures. Aristotelian terms- notion of
secular equality - trying to impose homogeneity,