Aristotle’s Legal and Social Philosophy
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In his legal and social philosophy, Aristotle speaks to us in apparently familiar terms with detailed discussions of justice, law, and constitutions. Indeed, political thinkers representing a wide variety of approaches have found value in Aristotelian ideas. In recent decades, Aristotle has been claimed by communitarians, social democrats, and even libertarians. Given this diversity in reception, it is useful to consider the foundations of Aristotle’s legal and social philosophy in order to see why some of his ideas have retained their interest for modern readers.
The Human Good and Human Nature
Many classic themes in political philosophy appear in Aristotle’s eight-book Politics, and a survey of its contents may suggest that this work is a self-contained treatment of political life. But just like Plato, who seamlessly blends ethical and political theorizing in the Republic and Laws, Aristotle does not separate politics from concerns about how we ought to live. Indeed, he...
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