The Meaning of Distributive Justice for Aristotle's Theory of Constitutions

Manuel Andreas Knoll


Abstract: This paper examines Aristotle’s theory of distributive justice and its meaning for his theory of constitutions. First, it shows that his account of constitutions in Books IV–VI of the Politics is an extension and refinement of his scheme of six constitutions in Book III. Second, it argues for the thesis that the account of justice (τὸ δίκαιον) in distribution of political offices that Aristotle gives in Book III of the Politics links up with and extends the doctrine of justice (δικαιοσύνη) that he develops in Book V of the Nicomachean Ethics. Third, it substantiates the thesis that Aristotle understands the different forms of constitution as embodiments of different conceptions of distributive justice, and argues for the thesis that Aristotle has a clear preference for the aristocratic conception and, as a consequence, for aristocracy. Finally, it supports the thesis that the constitution of the best polis, which Aristotle outlines in Books VII and VIII of the Politics, has to be understood as a true aristocracy and not as a polity (πολιτεία).

Keywords: Aristotle’s Politics, Theory of Justice, Distributive Justice, Constitutions




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ΠΗΓΗ/FONS EISSN 2445-2297, editada por el Instituto de Estudios Clásicos sobre la Sociedad y la Política "Lucio Anneo Séneca"
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid