POL 200 Lecture 7
Aristotle III. Evaluating less than perfect regimes in Aristotle.
I. Citizenship. What is it?
II. Aristotle’s classification (or typology) of regimes:
Ruling for the common good Ruling in the ruler’s interest
Rule of one Monarchy Tyranny
Rule of a few Aristocracy Oligarchy
Rule of many Constitutional Government Democracy
(or Polity or Mixed Regime)
III. Other factors to consider: Rule of law; the degree of participation; the class
composition of the society and the occupations of the citizens; the process of political
IV. The Mixed Regime: in practical terms, the best possible
Argument of the lecture:
With reference to the particular case of attempted state-building in Afghanistan, this
lecture will highlight some of Aristotle’s insights with regard to questions of a more practical
nature related to the creation of a relatively stable and marginally just regime.
Aristotle brings to us considerations about politics and regime building that combine
considerations for justice with recognition of the need to respect context and established social
and economic traditions. Polity/the Mixed Regime offers the paradox of being both Aristotle’s
choice of the best practical alternative for a good regime, and the result of a mixture of what he
regards as two worse forms of government (oligarchy and democracy). While the precise
outlines of polity are not absolutely clear (it could refer to a spectrum of possibilities), it may be
that the legacy of past political practices and traditions help to determine the type of mix that is
needed to build a more stable regime.
Central Concepts of Aristotle’s Politics
• Citizenship, Regime, Constitution
• What is a regime?
Isn’t merely an agreement to provide for our own security
Isn’t just geared solely for financial/commercial benefit
Central to a regime: an attempt to live in friendship/ good political relationship (a
degree of affection/loyalty)
In looking at different regimes: pay particular attention to conception of the good
• What is a constitution?
Politiea: constitution affects the hierarchy embodied in a shared life. A constitution is the organization of offices in state that determines what is to be the