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Aristotle and the origins of natural rights.

In Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's Politics, I attributed three main theses to Aristotle: that a metaphysical theory of nature is part of the foundations of political philosophy; that the virtue of justice is central to practical politics; and that a fully just constitution will respect and protect the rights of citizens. The third thesis is especially controversial because it challenges a widely shared view that the concept of rights is a modern discovery (or innovation) which is altogether alien to the thought of Aristotle and of classical writers and thinkers generally. However, this currently established view is itself a comparatively recent development. Commentators in the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth century translated and explicated Aristotle's Politics in terms of "rights." For example, Ernest Barker observed, "Plato thinks of the individual as bound to do the duty to which he is called as an organ of the State: Aristotle thinks of the individual as deserving the right which he ought to enjoy in a society based on (proportionate) equality."(1) I argued that these earlier scholars were correct, and I offered a philosophical reconstruction of Aristotle's politics which included a theory of justice and individual rights.

The disagreement over whether Aristotle recognized rights in some form unavoidably involves disagreement over what rights are, and the theory of rights itself is still highly contested. There is no consensus concerning how "(a) right" is to be defined, how rights are to be theoretically grounded, or how rights theory is to be applied in particular circumstances. This is not, however, a good reason to dismiss the issue of whether there are rights in Aristotle: for Aristotle, like modern rights theorists, is concerned about the moral and legal status of the individual within the community, and he expresses this in terms of claims of justice. The issue is worthy of study not only because it can lead to a deeper understanding of Aristotle's conceptions of justice and the common good, but also because it may shed valuable light on the theoretical foundations of human rights, since he offers a theory of political justice which is based on a metaphysical theory of human nature.

I shall discuss here the principal issues concerning the place of rights in Aristotles politics which are raised by the preceding essays.(2) Section I seeks to make clear the features which Aristotle's theory of justice shares (and does not share) with modern rights theories. Section II considers the relation of rights to the concepts of justice and merit (or desert) in Aristotles theory. Section III concerns the political dimension of rights in Aristotle's thought, and whether this makes them too "derivative and precarious" to play a serious role in his political theory. Section IV addresses problems in viewing Aristotle's proposed "best constitution" as a regime of rights. Finally, section V discusses the fundamental issue on which Aristotle and modern rights theorists disagree: the place of liberty in the exercise of individual rights.


Modern theories of rights take varied forms. Consider, for example, the opposing accounts of what it is that individuals have a right to. Libertarians maintain that individuals have only the right to negative liberty, that is, to freedom from the initiation of force by others. In contrast, social democrats contend that all individuals are entitled to welfare, which may require that the government use coercion against some persons in order to provide goods or services to others. There are also disagreements as to who should be counted as a rights-holder. Many persons (including those in various religious groups) hold that all living persons (including unborn babies) have the right to life, which would be violated by abortion, while many others deny that human fetuses have any rights. Through this din of discordant rights claims, however, a concordant theme may be discernible: a right is a claim of justice which a member of a community has against the other members of the community. A theory of justice supports individual rights if it entails that each and every individual within the community has moral standing and a claim to protection.

This abstract formulation obviously leaves many questions open. For example, what is the relation between justice and rights: are rights claims derivable from a deeper theory of justice, or are rights fundamental, irreducible moral concepts? Are rights based merely on convention, or are they in some sense objectively grounded? Are all rights merely prima facie claims, or are some rights indefeasible? Further, there are the disputes of application alluded to above: what is the ultimate object of a rights claim: is the right to life the most basic right, and, if so, does it consist fundamentally in a right to autonomy, or a right to welfare? And who belongs to the rights community of rights holders? Although it is (almost universally) agreed today that all living human beings possess rights, there is still controversy over unborn or "brain-dead" human beings, nonhuman animals, and plants. Some theorists would confer "collective" rights on groups such as nations, tribes, and families, or on artificial entities such as corporations. These and other questions are the subject of intense debate among contemporary rights theorists, and the disparate answers to them serve to distinguish the rights theories which are in contention today.

John Cooper raises a fundamental issue concerning the nature of individual rights which has a direct bearing on my thesis that individual rights have an important place in Aristotle's political philosophy. He points to a distinctively modern line of thought which he remarks is first fully expressed by Hegel--although, arguably, it is already fairly explicit in Kant's distinction between moral persons and mere things. Cooper (p. 863) argues, "an ancient thinker like Aristotle can perfectly well find important value in individual persons, as such, voluntarily, and on their own understandings and choice, engaging in the good activities that make the life of a community a good one; and he can locate the preeminent political value in individuals as such achieving, through cooperation in the public life of the society, their individual goods so conceived. However, he does not and cannot envisage as an important good the exercise of one's individual will simply in working out for oneself, in one's own subjectivity, what things one will find good, and then doing or enjoying them, as so selected. This is what Hegel calls the `principle of subjective freedom'--the idea that in possessing this power we have something of infinite worth in each of us individually." If a theory of individual rights does indeed presuppose the Hegelian "principle of subjective freedom," then there would be a strong argument to support the thesis that it is anachronistic to ascribe the language of rights to Aristotle.

However, Cooper (p. 865) himself suggests a way of addressing this difficulty. One can agree that modern, "full-fledged theories of rights" arose historically in the way that Hegel suggested and that theories of rights have a central place in many contemporary political theories because of the importance widely placed upon the "principle of subjective freedom." We might reject the implication that this history is "part of the very concept itself of a right." Yet, as post-Hegelians we can see the usefulness of this term "rights" in explicating the political theory of an ancient thinker like Aristotle, while carefully noting that he did not recognize subjective freedom as a core value. Cooper continues, "On this basis, then, we can claim not only to be entitled, but also justified, in using the language of rights in translating and interpreting Aristotle."

Now regarding Cooper's question of whether "it is legitimate to describe Aristotle as talking of rights of justice, or natural rights in particular, and so of legal rights too, while not endorsing Hegel's principle of subjectivity," I would, of course, answer in the affirmative. In the first place, Cooper may be correct that recent commentators have resisted the imputation of "rights" to earlier thinkers like Aristotle because they have embraced the Hegelian analysis of rights. If this is the case, however, these commentators are simply mistaken, because it is not the case that all theories of rights assume Hegel's principle of subjectivity. Other theories justify rights on other grounds, such as the sanctity of human life, or the ultimate value of flourishing in a neo-Aristotelian sense. According to such theories, the specific right to liberty is justified only on the grounds that such a right is indispensable for the protection of human life, or that it is necessary for the achievement of flourishing. (I shall say more about this in section V.) What is distinctive about a theory of rights as such is that it prohibits as unjust the sacrifice of individuals and their ends in order to advance the interests of other individuals or of groups of individuals. Thus, for example, a theory of rights is opposed to a normative theory such as act utilitarianism, which sanctions the sacrifice of the individual's interests in order to promote, roughly speaking, "the greatest good for the greatest number."

Aristotle's theory of political justice supports a theory of rights because he understands justice in an individualistic sense. That is, when Aristotle equates political justice with the common advantage ([fifteen Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text]),(3) he understands "common" ([five Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text]) in an individualistic sense. I am using the term "individualistic" in a special sense here, in which it is opposed to "holistic."(4) On the holistic view justice is equated with the overall advantage, so that it sanctions the sacrifice of individual citizens in order to make the polls as a whole better off, or the benefitting some citizens (for example, the majority) at the expense of others (for example, the minority). In contrast, on the individualistic view, the fully just polls must promote the common advantage of its members, in the sense of the mutual advantage rather than at the overall advantage. That is, it must aim at the virtue and happiness of each and every citizen, not at a collective goal attained by the polls as a whole but not by its members, or in which some members partake to the exclusion of others. Aristotle's political individualism reflects a deep metaphysical commitment to the individual. Eduard Zeller perceived this as the fundamental point of divergence of Aristotle from Plato: "In politics as in metaphysics the central point with Plato is the Universal, with Aristotle the Individual. The former demands that the whole should realise its ends without regard to the interests of the individuals: the latter that it should be reared upon the satisfaction of all individual interests that have a true title to be regarded."(5) However, it is necessary to make a further distinction between extreme individualism, which holds that the good of the individual is purely self-confined and self-regarding, and moderate individualism, which recognizes that the individual good includes other-regarding morally virtuous activity, for example, acts of courage, generosity, friendship, and justice. I argue that Aristotle subscribes to a moderate individualist theory of justice which is concerned with the happiness of each and every individual.(6) It is in this crucial sense that I contend that Aristotle's theory of justice entails a theory of rights.

Nonetheless, Aristotle's theory of justice does differ deeply from modern theories--not because he lacks a concept of rights, but because he presupposes a political and theoretical context radically at variance with the modern. Most important is the role of the polls or city-state in his political thought. The polls is on Aristotle's account a community which develops naturally out of more primitive forms of association, that is, households and villages, and it is distinguished as "complete" and "attaining the limit of self-sufficiency" and aiming at the good life.(7) The polls does not correspond to the modern political state--an association possessing a monopoly over the legitimized use of force within a definite geographical area--which is only one component of modern society. Rather the polls is for Aristotle the most inclusive, as well as the most authoritative, community.(8) Hence, Aristotle's polls is a fused concept, combining attributes of the political state with features now generally ascribed to civil society (including economic, religious, and other forms of association).

Aristotle argues that a polls itself exists by nature ([nine Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) and that a human being is by nature a political animal [eighteen Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text].(9) These doctrines assume Aristotle's natural teleology, according to which living organisms are self-moving entities directed to natural ends, like the proverbial acorn which grows into an oak tree. Analogously,

every polls exists by nature, since the first communities also [are by

nature]. For it is their end ([five Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII

text] and nature is an end. For we say that what each thing is when its

coming to be is completed is the nature of each thing, for example, of a

human being, a horse, or a household.(10)

Even more radically, Aristotle contends that the polls is prior by nature to the individual human beings in the sense that individuals are not self-sufficient when they are separated from the polls. That is, they can perform their function, or achieve their natural end, fully only when they are citizens of a polis.(11) Hence, human beings exist in a natural condition only if they belong to a self-sufficient political community.

Although the polls is by nature a collective entity ([sixteen Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text] Politics 2.2.1261a18), and thus not a substance in the strict sense (as a human being is), it is a natural extension of substances and is analogous to them. As an organism can be in a natural (healthy) or unnatural (diseased) condition, the polls can be in a natural (just) or unnatural (unjust) condition. Whether the polls is in a natural (just) condition or not depends on whether it has a correct constitution. A correct constitution is according to nature ([nine Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text], whereas a deviant constitution is contrary to nature ([nine Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text].(12)

This theory of political naturalism helps to explain Aristotle's disagreement with most modern theories of rights. First, because he affirms the radical dependence of the individual on the polls, he would not accept Locke's notion of a prepolitical "state of nature."(13) According to Lockean theory, individuals possess a panoply of rights to life, liberty, and property in the state of nature, but they voluntarily enter the political state in order to safeguard these rights more effectively, by authorizing their collective enforcement. On this view the legitimacy of government depends on whether it respects the antecedently defined individual natural rights. If the government fails to protect or violates their rights, individuals retain rights against it, most importantly the right to disobey its commands, rebel against it, and replace it with another. For Aristotle, in contrast, political rights could not be derived from preexisting natural rights because justice in the full sense can only be found in the polls. Individuals have rights within the polls against other individuals, including the rulers, but there is no suggestion of rights against the polls in Aristotle.(14) Nor would Aristotle have promulgated a list of "self-evident" truths concerning human rights of man such as are invoked in the American Declaration of Independence.(15)

Nonetheless, Aristotle did recognize rights within the political community par excellence--the Greek city-state--and this was the historical seed out of which the more familiar theories of natural rights grew in the late medieval and early modern eras.


No single word in classical Greek was a precise counterpart to the modern English substantival noun "(a) right," and some view this as a decisive reason for concluding that Aristotle and other ancient Greeks could not have had a concept of rights.(16) It does not follow, however, that Aristotle lacked the linguistic resources to make rights claims. For, as Bernard Knox and Bernard Williams point out in a different context, although the German word Schadenfrende cannot be translated into a single English word, its meaning is familiar to English speakers. They argue, by analogy, that it is implausible to infer from the fact that Homer's vocabulary lacks precise counterparts to "self," "mind," or "consciousness," that he could not have had these ideas. On the contrary, Williams contends, "beneath the terms that mark differences between Homer and ourselves lies a complex net of concepts in terms of which particular actions are explained, and this net was the same for Homer as it is for us."(17) Along similar lines I argued in Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's Politics, chapter 4, that Aristotle's Greek has an ample supply of locutions to do substantially the same work as modern "rights" locutions.

When I began my study of these locutions I was struck by the parallel between them and the different senses of "rights" which were distinguished and analysed by the legal theorist W. H. Hohfeld.(18) Briefly stated, Hohfeld distinguished four senses in which one person X might have a "right" against another person Y: first, X has a right in the sense of a claim to A against Y, in which case Y has a correlative duty to X to do A (for example, a creditor's claim to repayment of a debt); second, X has a right in the sense of a liberty or privilege to do A against Y, in which case X has no duty to Y to forbear from doing A (for example, an owner's liberty to consume his own property); third, X has a right in the sense of an authority or power to A against Y, in which case Y has a correlative liability to X's doing A (for example, a police officer's authority to arrest someone); and fourth, X has a right in the sense of an immunity against Y's doing A, in which case X has no liability to Y's doing A (for example, a witness's immunity against self-incrimination). These correspond to distinct locutions in Aristotle:

Hohfeld Aristotle

claim [two Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text]

liberty, privilege [one Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]

authority, power [one Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]

immunity [two Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text]

In support of this interpretation I noted instances in which earlier translators and commentators had rendered these locutions in terms of "rights," "entitlements," and the like, along with occurrences in other Greek authors which had been taken this way by modern translators and lexicographers. This cumulative evidence suffices to overcome the objection that there is no single word for "(a) right" in Aristotle's Greek.

A right in its most general sense is a claim of justice which an individual has against other members of a community. This notion is expressed in Aristotle's Greek by [two Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text] (plural, [two Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text]), the substantive phrase formed from the neuter definite article and adjective, literally, "the just <thing>." In the context of disputation ([twelve Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) just things are the things which one party claims justly against another party. When Aristotle says that justice is the virtue through which individuals "have their own things,"(19) he is in close agreement with Simonides that justice consists in each person having what is owed to him.(20) John Cooper (pp. 868-72) and Malcolm Schofield (pp. 843-8) both agree that [nine Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text] and its cognates can sometimes be translated as "the right" or "a right," although they express reservations about the significance of this fact, and they take issue with my analyses of particular passages. Cooper (p. 868) states that "one ought to preserve in translation the more literal term `just' or some derivative, not necessarily because no claim right is being indicated in these passages by the term, but because that is not all that, as used there, it is, or may be, expressing." I agree that the connection between [nine Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text] and "just" should be preserved and that is precisely why I used the cumbersome phrase "just-claim right" rather than merely "claim right." I also agree that [seven Greek words cannot be converted in ASCII text] and its cognates may express press more than "a right" in a passage such as 4.4.1291a39-40; for example, "the just" may also refer to a duty such as a citizen's duty to perform military service. However, my main concern in Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's Politics was to refute the claim that Aristotle was oblivious to rights, and I consequently emphasized the contexts in which [nine Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] was used to assert the just claims of individuals against members of the community. Hence, even if Cooper is correct that claim rights are not all that is being expressed in these passages, it is sufficient for my argument if they are a significant part of what is asserted.

Cooper (pp. 869-70) objects in particular to my translation of [nine Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] as "just-claim rights" at Politics 3.1.1275a8-10. Here I followed W. L. Newman, who translates: "nor are those citizens who, [as metoeci usually do,] share in political rights to the extent of undergoing trial and suing."(21) Aristotle's point is that metics (or resident alients) often have the right to represent themselves in lawcourts either to bring suit or to defend themselves against suits. For Aristotle goes on to remark that in some polises the resident aliens do not partake of these things fully--that is, they do not have the right to speak for themselves in the lawcourts--but must be assigned a legal representative ([nine Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]). Given that this is Aristotle's own explanation, there is nothing "forced" or "noxiously theory-driven" about this explanation.(22)

Malcolm Schofield agrees qualifiedly that "[seven Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] and its cognates can sometimes be translated `(a) right"' (p. 833), and that "in a sense it is true that Aristotle's treatment of political justice concerns `rights within the political community"' because from an account of objective right (that is, justice) one can derive a corresponding account of subjective right (pp. 843-4). However, he finds it significant that, whereas Latin construes ius and iustitia with possessives, "although Greek could have done so (for example, [thirteen Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]) such formulations are rare, and are not to be found in the pages Plato and Aristotle devote to discussion of justice" (p. 845). This remark is generally true, but not decisive, because such expressions do occur. For example, a legal brief by Aristotle's contemporary, Demosthenes (384-322 B.C.), contains the possessive with the plural form of [eight Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] (24.3). The plaintiff protests to the jury that it is "easier to curry favor privately with certain persons than to stand up in defense of your [that is, the citizen's] rights ([eighteen Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text])."(23) Often the possessive pronoun is unnecessary in Greek, because the definite article commonly takes the place of a possessive pronoun when there is no doubt as to the possessor.(24) Typically the subject of the sentence is the possessor of [eight Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]. Further, Aristotle follows the common Greek practice of saying that when the verdict is just, the winner "has," "acquires," or "gets" the just thing and that when this happens, one has "one's own thing."(25) There are also resources in Greek to say that X is pleading the rights of Y against Z, for example, "to plead the rights of others against you" ([thirty-four Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]) or "to plead your rights against others" ([thirty-six Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]) In such contexts one of the parties is receiving what he has a just claim to, so that it is not at all surprising that other translators and commentators have often translated the expression as "a right" in such contexts, since a right is a just claim by an individual against other members of the community. It is hard to see why one would resist such a rendering, unless one relied on tendentious assumptions about the meaning of "a right."

Schofield (p. 847) also objects that some of my examples do not have to be interpreted in the way I suggest, so that the `rights' interpretation is "possible, but not probable." However, because these examples involve legal disputation, it is more probable than not that they involve just claims or rights.(27) It is noteworthy, at any rate, that Schofield does accept "rights" as a translation for [eight Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] in the important passage at Politics 3.12.1282b23-30:

For perhaps some would say that the offices ought to be distributed

unequally according to prominence in any good thing whatever, although in

any remaining respects they do not differ at all but happen to be similar.

For persons who are different have a different just-claim right and claim of

merit ([twenty-three Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]). But if this is

true, those who are prominent with respect to complexion, size, or any good

whatsoever will have an excess possession of political rights ([nineteen Greek

words cannot be converted into ASCII text]).

Most translators use "political rights" or at least "just claims" for [nineteen Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] (the genitive of [sixteen Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]) here, including the Sinclair/Saunders translation quoted by Schofield (p. 853).(28) Let us note the significance of this locution. Schofield (p. 853) remarks that it is unusual, and that Aristotle uses it here perhaps "because he wants for once to introduce the notion of political rights." However, what is unusual is the insertion of the word [nine Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] between [three Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] and [seven Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text], which occurs because Aristotle is here talking about political rights, that is, rights to political office. If the dispute were among the heirs to an estate, the rights in question would be property or other rights. Schofield (p. 847) objects to my "interpretative methodology," contending that I should have first attended to key passages in which Aristotle discusses political rights and then interpreted other texts in the light of them. However, my strategy was first to analyze the uses of [eight Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] and its cognates, where, I argue, these are most plausibly understood in terms of "rights." Then I turned to the special case of [sixteen Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text], that is, political rights at Politics 3.12.1282b23-30. Otherwise it would not have been clear what Aristotle was supposed to mean by rights, which are qualified as "political" in this passage.

However, even if Aristotle's use of [nine Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII TEXT] is conceded to approximate Hohfeld's "claim right," the question remains whether Aristotle's rights have any bite. As remarked above in section I, these rights do have force because Aristotle understands justice as the mutual advantage, that is, as promoting the good for each and every member of the community. I argue for this interpretation at length in Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's Politics, chapter 6, and I can only briefly illustrate it here with Aristotle's argument in Politics 7 that every citizen in the best constitution has a right to property. He reasons that "a polls should be called happy not by viewing a part ([seven Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) of it but by viewing all ([seven Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) the citizens."(29) He subsequently remarks that each individual should receive two parcels of land, one close to town and the other in the country, because such an arrangement is fair and just ([eighteen Greet word cannot be converted in ASCII text.), in addition to the pragmatic consideration that this policy will promote unanimity if the polls is invaded.(30) That Aristotle thinks the best constitution protects the interests of each and every citizen is clear from a later passage in which he explains the sense in which his best constitution is the best.(31) After stating that his constitution is excellent because all of the citizens are excellent, he remarks that "even if all ([six Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) the citizens could be excellent without each ([ten Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) of the citizens [being excellent], the latter would be more choiceworthy; for all ([six Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) follows from each ([ten greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text])."(32) That is, even if it were possible to promote the good of the polls in a holistic sense of overall advantage, it is better to secure the happiness of each and every citizen, and this is what Aristotle's best constitution does. It follows that the lawgiver should be concerned with the education of all of the citizens.

Schofield and Kraut, however, both question whether rights as such play an important role in Aristotle's politics. Schofield argues that in the passage at Politics 3.12.1282b23-30, cited above, political rights have only a derivative role. The reference to merit or desert ([ten Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) reveals what Aristotle really means by justice. Schofield (p. 854) contends, "In fact such rights are nothing but a function of the things people deserve. They play no explanatory role within the logic of the hypothesis [under consideration]." Schofield acknowledges my thesis that for Aristotle the merit or desert of a person is the basis for his political rights, but argues (p. 852) that a right becomes thereby simply "an idle cog to the machine of explanation and analysis." Hence, Schofield contends that we should understand Aristotle's political discourse in terms of "deserving a share" rather than "having a right" to citizenship and office. Kraut (p. 760-2) also relies on a distinction between rights and deserts, but, unlike Schofield who maintains that rights trivially follow from deserts, Kraut argues that rights do not follow from deserts at all. He points out that if, for example, we are deciding whom to invite to a conference, a candidate does not have a right to be invited as a speaker even if she is the most deserving: "it would be wrong to say that we owe her an invitation, that we have a duty to invite her, or that she has a right to be invited" (p. 760). This apparent divergence in intuitions about the relation between deserts and rights is illuminating. Indeed, it supports my own view that merit or desert is part, but only part, of Aristotle's conception of justice.

The account of political justice in Politics 3 is based on the theory of distributive justice in Nicomachean Ethics 5.(33) There Aristotle says that "everyone agrees that the just in distributions ought to be according to some merit, yet everyone does not say that merit is the same thing; advocates of democracy say it is freedom, some advocates of oligarchy say it is wealth, and others good birth, and advocates of aristocracy say it is virtue."(34) To determine which standard of merit is correct, it is necessary to have a correct understanding of the political community and its ultimate end. Aristotle first considers the mistaken oligarchic conception of justice and its underlying view of the polls:

For if they formed a community and came together for the sake of

possessions, they would share in the polls in so far as they shared in

property. Thus the argument of the oligarchs would seem to be strong. For if

one person has contributed [only] one mina(35) out of a hundred but another

has contributed all the rest, it is not just for the first person to get an

equal share with the second. [This is so whether the amount to be

distributed is] the original contribution or the proceeds from this.(36)

The point is clearly that each partner has a just claim--a right-- to a share of the proceeds proportionate to his contribution. The prospective speaker in Kraut's example who has not participated or made a contribution does not have this sort of claim. When individuals do cooperate for mutual advantage, however, justice entails that each of them has just claims against the others. If justice in the universal sense is correctly understood as cooperation for mutual advantage, the particular virtue of distributive justice is necessary for such cooperation to take place. Aristotle of course rejects the oligarchs' notion of the polls as a joint venture to acquire and protect property, but he accepts the more general view of the polls as a community cooperating for mutual advantage. The polls is, more specifically, a community

in a complete and self-sufficient life. This is, as we say, living happily

and nobly. Therefore, one should suppose that the political community is

for the sake of noble actions, but not for the sake of [merely] living

together. Therefore, those who contribute the most to such a community

participate more in the polls than those who are equal or greater according

to freedom or family but unequal according to political virtue, or than

those who are prominent according to wealth but inferior according to


In discussing the dispute over political rights in Politics 3.12, Aristotle argues that the offices are justly distributed on the basis of whether one "contributes to the function (or work)" ([twenty-two Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) community.(38)

The suggestion that Aristotle understands justice in terms of merit or desert(39) rather than in terms of rights overlooks that Aristotelian distributive justice is a kind of equation, with claims of merit ([four Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) on one side of the equation and claims of right ([seven Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]) on the other:

Merit of X / Merit of Y = The right of X / The right of Y More precisely, justice entails that the merits of the partners (X and Y) and what they have a just claim to be proportionately equal.(40) This is not surprising since distributive justice is the virtue which makes it possible for individuals to cooperate by equalizing their respective contributions and benefits. Injustice occurs when the actual distribution of benefits deviates from the right hand side of the equation, that is, when one of the parties receives more or less than he is entitled to. It is noteworthy that John Rawls remarks in A Theory of Justice that his own theory belongs to the same tradition as Aristotle's theory of distributive justice. He also observes that "the principles of social justice . . . provide a way of assigning rights and duties in the basic institutions of society and they define the appropriate distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation."(41) Rawls of course employs a very different methodology from Aristotle's in articulating these principles and his conclusions are far more liberal and egalitarian than those which Aristotle prescribed. Nonetheless, Rawls agrees here with Aristotle on the function of political justice.

Schofield (p. 856) says that "(a) right in contemporary English usage would ordinarily be thought to contrast with `desert'. " Similarly, Kraut remarks that "no modern theorist holds that in order to retain the right to life one must use one's talents to benefit the community. The underlying idea behind this conception of the right to life is that the conditions under which one possesses rights must be undemanding. For the value of having rights, as we conceive them, lies in having some protection from the demands of others; a modern right carves out a zone in which one is relieved from the task of having to contribute to the common good" (p. 763). It is true that many modern theorists tend to view rights as unconditional entitlements and that many now regard mere need rather than desert to be the proper basis for just claims against the community. This could imply a nonproductive surfer has the same right to sustenance as a diligent gardener. This might lead one to question whether some modern rights theories are encouraging an ever accelerating proliferation of entitlements and discouraging a sense of personal responsibility. Aristotle in contrast holds that full political rights should be accorded to those who are able and disposed to make a full contribution to the community. Potential contributing members should be properly educated so that they can assume such rights. Those who are past their prime and no longer able to exercise full political-rights provision should have rights based on what contribution they can still make. Generally any naturally free human being who is capable of cooperating and entering into some form of community should be treated justly and not subjected to despotic rule. However, such a theory holds generally that rights are inextricably linked to the fact that right holders are or have been contributors (or are at least potential contributors) to the community against which they have a just claim. Such a view may not accord with modern welfare liberalism, but it is surely admissable as a theory of rights.


As mentioned in section I, Aristotle's theory of political justice and rights presupposes his doctrine of political naturalism, so that he would not accept a Lockean state of nature as a point of departure for the justification of the political state. With this in mind I stated that Aristotle had a theory of natural rights in the sense of "rights based on natural justice" but not in the sense of "rights possessed in a pre-political state of nature."(42) However, Richard Kraut (pp. 757 60) and Roderick Long (pp. 780 6) both argue persuasively that there is a basis for a theory of pre-political natural rights in Aristotle. They make use of passages where Aristotle says that certain nonpolitical communities can be just; where he implies that making war in order to enslave foreigners is unjust (unless they are "natural slaves"); and where he implies that justice can obtain even in relation to a slave.(43) Although I took these passages to show that Aristotle recognized forms of justice independent of the polls, I did not see this as supporting pre-political natural rights because Aristotle describes natural justice as a part of political justice in Nicomachean Ethics 5.7. However, I am now persuaded by Kraut and Long that these passages can be used to support a version of natural rights. Aristotle's treatment of natural justice as a part of political justice is consistent with the possibility of nonpolitical natural justice. Since justice applies wherever there is community, an association such as master and slave can be considered in terms of naturalness or justice regardless of whether it occurs in a polls. If a naturally free man were coerced into slavery, this would be an injustice and a violation of his natural rights even if he did not belong to a polls. This implies that even in a "state of nature" human beings have certain natural rights, such as the right not to be enslaved.

I still maintain, notwithstanding, that Aristotle would not accept that political justice and rights could be derived from nonpolitical forms. Instead, when Aristotle shows how the polls comes to be from more basic forms of community, such as households and villages, his purpose is to show that the polls is their end or nature because it is self-sufficient for the good life and thus is more perfect than they are. For political justice is peculiar to a community of free and equal human beings aiming at the good life. Although the polls arises out of more primitive communities which are natural, this is a necessary, not sufficient, condition for the naturalness of the polis.(44) Even if the justice of the more basic communities were preserved within the polls, this would not guarantee that the polls itself was just. The polls must also have the right sort of end and structure if it is to be in a natural condition.

When Aristotle says that political justice contains both natural justice and conventional justice, he does not mean that a political constitution can be partitioned into mutually exclusive natural and conventional branches.(45) The same law may have both natural and conventional features. It will be natural in so far as it promotes human nature, and conventional in so far as it depends on the choice of the lawgiver. For example, Aristotle would argue that a private-property arrangement is natural, but there may be considerable leeway in how precisely property is distributed to individuals and regulated by the laws.(46)

Kraut evidently holds that if rights involve conventional factors, then natural rights have no place in Aristotle's theory. This is evident in his discussion (pp. 764-5) of Aristotle's view that the requirements for citizenship will vary depending on circumstances. Aristotle approves in Politics 1.2 of the custom requiring that both one's parents be citizens, but he recognizes that there may be exceptions to this rule. It obviously cannot apply in the case of the colonists starting a polls, and if there is a shortage due to war or plague it may be necessary to recruit outsiders. Because of the element of contingency and convention here, the question of who should be a citizen cannot be definitively settled by appeal to a natural right to citizenship. Although Kraut is correct on this point, similar issues arise for modern natural rights theory. The framers of the U.S. constitution also had to decide upon many conventions which could not be justified a priori by appeal to the natural rights theory invoked in the Declaration of Independence. However, the conventions were supposed to be fundamentally consistent with this theory. (Of course, this was not true, for example, in the case of slavery.) Similarly, Aristotle discusses moral requirements for citizenship in Politics 7.9, arguing that the citizen body should consist of the inhabitants of the polis who are capable of full moral virtue. The polis will then be in a natural, fully just condition. "The polis of our prayers" is realized when the natural and the conventional complement each other. Nature provides the lawgiver with a standard for evaluating political institutions and laws, but he must also take into account variable circumstances. If the lawgiver finds a constitution which is in an inferior condition, he should try to reform it where possible, although he should not disrupt the social fabric in the process and he should not offer the citizens a constitution beyond their grasp. Rather, like Solon, he should offer them the best constitution of which they are capable.(47)


Aristotle's "best constitution," described in Politics 7-8, is supposed to embody political justice fully and hence, on my interpretation, to protect and respect individual rights. As a result, the lawgiver must aim at the happiness of each and every citizen, rather than at the "greatest happiness of the greatest number" or at the good of the "whole polis" in a holistic sense. Richard Kraut (pp. 769-72) objects that Aristotle's requirement that the constitution aim at the good of each and every citizen entails only the very weak "principle of nonexclusion," namely, that "if someone is a citizen, then civic institutions must be designed to promote his good to some degree." He contrasts this with "the much stronger principle," that is, "the principle of maximizing individual happiness," which he ascribes to me, namely that, "no citizen is required to make even a modest sacrifice in his own well being, even if such a sacrifice would contribute greatly to the good of others." However, Kraut's "weak" principle is clearly too weak to capture Aristotle's intention. As we have seen, he argues for universal property rights for citizens on the grounds that the polis should be called happy with respect to all its citizens.(48) Further, the aim of the educational system is to enable the citizens to attain what is most choiceworthy for them, that is, the highest good it is possible for them to attain.(49) A system in which some citizens were equipped "to some degree" would not be the best. (Aristotle's "polis of our prayers" is not like Lake Wobegon where the citizens are all merely above average.) On the other hand, Kraut's "strong" principle seems impossibly strong. However, Kraut's dilemma relies upon a false dichotomy. Aristotle's conception of happiness is not a "maximizing" conception (as in utilitarianism) whereby the complete happiness of one person crowds out the happiness of others. The presupposition of the best constitution is that the natural ends of the citizens are compossibly realizable: the fact that some of the citizens are flourishing does not bar other citizens from flourishing. It follows that the political, property, and other rights of the citizens are compossibly realizable in the best constitution. Compossibility in this sense is still a strong requirement and may be hard to satisfy--indeed, in Aristotle's own view it is hardly ever satisfied. Where there are deep-seated conflicts of interest among the inhabitants or where some of them are incapable of the good life, the lawgiver must resort to a "second sailing" ([thirteen Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]), that is, devise a second-best constitution or even worse.(50) Nonetheless, the natural ends of individuals are compossible in principle for Aristotle, because he does not understand happiness as consisting in a state like maximizing wealth or power. On such a view the ends of individuals would inevitably come into conflict with each other if we make the realistic assumption that the means required for maximization are scarce. Rather, Aristotle understands the happiness of each individual as [ten Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text], that is, flourishing activity of the soul. Flourishing consists in contemplation and ethically virtuous activity, which is subject to the mean, so that one individual's flourishing need not come into conflict with the self-actualizing activity of others. Goods like wealth or power are on Aristotle's view merely external goods: they are not to be accumulated without bounds, but only up to a natural limit, namely, the amount one needs for flourishing. Since the aim of the just constitution is to promote the flourishing of the individual citizens, it can prescribe a compossibly realizable set of individual rights.(51) Thus the best constitution can serve as a regulative ideal for lawgivers and politicians, who should strive to approximate, as best they can in their particular circumstances, the ideal of mutually advantageous cooperation in a self-sufficient community aiming at the good life.(52)

Further, it does not follow from my interpretation that the citizens of the best polis could not be expected to assume burdens on behalf of the polis, for example, by defending it if it is attacked by foreign enemies or by holding political office, even if this prevented them from philosophizing. Indeed, Aristotle thinks that citizens have not only political rights but also the duty to exercise these rights in a responsible way.(53) However, this is consistent with the thesis that the best constitution aims at the happiness of the citizens if we also assume that Aristotle subscribes to a moderate individualist view of justice and to a moderate intellectualist view of happiness. On this view happiness includes the noble activities characteristic of the citizen,(54) such as military service, so that Aristotle does not enjoin us to "contemplate at any cost" and neglect moral virtue.(55) What makes the best constitution best is that its institutions are designed to promote complete virtue in each and every citizen.

Nonetheless, it is evident to modern readers that Aristotle's "best" constitution is seriously flawed. C. C. W. Taylor characterizes the polis of our prayers as "an exploiting elite, a community of free-riders whose ability to pursue the good life is made possible by the willingness of others to forgo that pursuit," and adds that the so-called ideal polis is "characterized by systematic injustice."(56) Some commentators find the flaws so egregious that they believe that Aristotle's endorsement of the best constitution must have been ironic.(57) Alternatively, it would seem, Aristotle was guilty of bad faith in representing his ideal constitution as unqualifiedly just, or else he must have committed some staggering errors in working out the details. The central problem concerns the fact that it is obvious to us that the polis described in Politics 7-8 does not satisfy the account of political justice in Politics 3. For the constitution does not promote the common advantage but only the advantage of a minority of the inhabitants. Hence it is unjust in the same way an as oligarchy, in which a minority of wealthy individuals rule for their own benefit at the expense of the poor.

I have offered an account of why Aristotle failed to recognize this problem. In Politics 7.8-9 he divides the inhabitants of the polis into two groups: genuine members (the citizens) and adjuncts (including slaves and metics). Political justice applies only to the genuine members. The slaves are naturally inferior beings who cannot comprise a polis because they are incapable of happiness and choice.(58) There is an abundance of such natural slaves, including evidently most of the non-Greek barbarian nations, because they have a deficit of reason (Europeans) or of spirit (Asiatic).(59) One of the purposes for which the best polis goes to war is to enslave those who merit being slaves.(60) Moreover, Aristotle has (admittedly bad) arguments in Politics 1 that rule over natural slaves is just and advantageous for the slaves. Metics and foreigners have no basis for complaint because they are members of other polises and they are presumably benefitting from their presence in the ideal polis, or they would go elsewhere. Hence, Aristotle could have believed, in a sincere but misguided way, that the polis of our prayers is just.

Julia Annas objects, however, that Aristotle's ideal polis also contains serious injustices which cannot be explained in terms of his natural inegalitarianism. She points to two main problems. The first involves the farmer class, of whom Aristotle says if we are speaking ideally or "according to our prayers," they ought to be slaves. "But," she says (p. 740), "Aristotle assumes that the slaves in question will not be natural slaves; far from lacking enough reasoning power to function on their own, they are envisaged as better motivated if given the chance of achieving freedom, and as having enough intelligence to combine forces and revolt, if precautionary measures are not taken." However, the passage she cites (7.10.1330a25-33) can be understood another way. It does say that the farmer-slaves should not be of the same nationality, but it also says that they should not be of the spirited sort so that they will be useful with regard to work and not rebellious, or else they should be barbarian serfs with a nature ([eight Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) similar to the non-spirited slave. This is evidence that Aristotle thought the farmers ought to have an inferior, servile nature.(61) Annas quite rightly points to Aristotle's embarrassing promise to explain "why it is better to hold out freedom as a prize to all the slaves." Unfortunately, however, Aristotle does not keep the promise in his surviving writings, so that we are forced to conjecture as to what he had in mind. The most that can be safely inferred, I think, is that in some unspecified circumstances it is better in some unspecified way for freedom to be offered to all the slaves. This passage by itself, however, does not show that Aristotle regards the slaves of the ideal polis as naturally free.(62)

Annas (pp. 740-53) points out another difficulty involving Aristotle's treatment of the class of [eight Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text], that is, mechanical or menial workers. The word [eight Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] is pejorative; and, as Annas remarks, it has no precise modern counterpart, although "vulgar" is a rough equivalent. Aristotle says that the citizens of the polis which is most nobly governed ought not to live a vulgar or mercantile way of life, because such a way of life is low-born and opposed to virtue,(63) and that vulgar workers should not possess political rights(64) although they are necessary for the polis.(65) However, in contrast to the farmers, Annas states, the vulgar class consists of free workers. Further, she points out that Aristotle does not argue that the vulgar workers are naturally inferior, so that he is not relying on a natural difference between vulgar workers and citizens.

In fact, however, Aristotle is vague about the status of vulgar workers in his ideal polis. He does not say whether they should be free or slave, in contrast to the case of the farmers. Newman's commentary treats the vulgar workers as slaves rather than disenfranchised freemen. He calls attention to Aristotle's contrast at 7.4.1326a18-20 between the citizens and "a large number of slaves, metics, and foreigners" which may be in the polis: "It is evident from what follows that Aristotle counts [8 Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] here among [six Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text], just as he does in 3.4.1277a37 sqq."(66) The latter passage characterizes the vulgar artisan ([seventeen Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) who works with his hands as a form of slave. Further, Aristotle could envisage a polis in which the vulgar workers were slaves. For he says that "in ancient times in some places the vulgar class was slave or foreigner, so that many [vulgar persons] are such even now."(67) Newman notes that "even at Athens most handicraftsmen may have been slaves or aliens as late as the time of Aristotle, though the Athenian citizen-body undoubtedly comprised a large number of [eight Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]."(68) Hence, the textual evidence permits Newman's interpretation that the vulgar workers in Aristotle's ideal polis should be slaves or foreigners.

What of the main issue raised by Annas, however, as to whether the vulgar workers are supposed to be naturally inferior to the citizens? She is quite right to press this crucial issue. I criticized Aristotle's arguments concerning the allegedly deleterious effects of vulgar labor;(69) but, as Annas remarks (p. 748), apart from this issue, there is a problem of injustice if certain inhabitants are excluded from the citizen body when they are not naturally inferior to the citizens, and they are excluded as a result of performing a necessary service for the polis. I was taking it for granted that Aristotle regards the vulgar class as inferior by nature to the citizens. The citizens, being naturally free, should refrain, especially during their upbringing, from vulgar activities because these will make their souls vulgar, just as doing slavish things or consorting with slaves tends to make them slavish.(70) However, although Annas is right that Aristotle has no argument for such a view, the question remains whether he believes it. Unfortunately, again, Aristotle actually says very little about the nature of the vulgar class in the ideal state. One passage which may bear on this issue is 8.7.1342a18-25, where Aristotle distinguishes two audiences for music.

But since there are two sorts of spectator, on the one hand the free and

educated, on the other the crude consisting of vulgar persons, menial

workers, and others of this sort, contests and spectacles should also be

offered to the latter for relaxation. Just as their souls are diverted from

the natural condition ([thirty one Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII

text]), so also are there deviations of harmonies and strained and

over colored tunes.

Aristotle could be understood as saying that the crude spectators in the ideal state have naturally defective souls.(71) Annas takes the passage differently, as indicating that the crude spectators have unnatural or mistaken ends, not that they have unnatural initial endowments. However, the text evidently supports either reading. In conclusion, then, while I agree with Annas that Aristotle can be seriously faulted for failing to show that the polis is just in so far as groups such as the farmers and vulgar workers are concerned, I do not agree that he has fallen into explicit self-contradiction by consciously sanctioning the unjust treatment of such groups.(72) However, the fact remains that "the polis of our prayers" represents the full embodiment of political justice and the common good in which all of the citizens can compossibly exercise their rights and achieve a high form of flourishing. It thus serves as a regulative ideal to guide the lawgiver in more realistic and challenging cases.


As remarked in section I, Aristotle's theory of rights does not accord freedom or liberty the central place it has in most modern theories, so that he is more inclined to endorse paternalistic and other authoritarian regulations.(73) Nonetheless, freedom or liberty does have a place in his theory. First, I must briefly explain the corresponding Greek terms.(74) I use "freedom" as a translation for [nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]. A free ([nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) person for the Greeks was contrasted with a slave, and tyrannical rule was equated with despotic rule, that is, the rule appropriate for slaves but not free persons.(75) Hence, "freedom" was a catchword of the Athenian democracy and, as Aristotle remarks, was associated with self-rule of the citizens.(76) I use "liberty" to translate [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]. This noun means, generally, "possibility" or "ability," and the related verb [six Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] means, generally, "it is possible (or open)" for someone to do something. In a political and legal context these terms have a sense close to "liberty." Following Plato, Aristotle criticizes democracy for identifying [nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] with unrestricted [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text], the ability to do whatever one wants, which makes freedom degenerate into license, and the polis into an anarchic condition.(77) Nonetheless, Aristotle thinks that the citizens of the just polis are free and equal(78) and that the citizens possess liberties, most notably the liberty to partake in political offices.(79)

I argue that the terms [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] and [six Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] in certain contexts are close parallels of the rights locutions which Hohfeld called "privileges" or "liberties." That is, they indicate actions which the agent is not prohibited from performing. Schofield concedes that [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] and [six Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] can "be interpreted as constitutional rights by those accustomed to thinking in such terms" (pp. 839). However, as he points out, the idea of [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] is not tied directly to the idea of justice, and that an [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] may be of little or no value if one lacks the wherewithal to exercise it. But these points seem only to underscore the parallel with a Hohfeldian liberty right. A bare liberty, in contrast to a claim right, entails the absence of a duty or claim of justice. It is also necessary to distinguish between merely having liberty and having effective liberty, and between having liberty and valuing it. Although individuals may not value a right which they have (for example, a confirmed bachelor may set no great store in the right to marry), this does not make it any less of a right.

The point of liberty rights for Aristotle has to be understood in terms of their place within his general theory of constitutional rights. Hence, I have pointed to the significance of his final definition of the citizen in Politics 3.1:

Who the citizen is is therefore evident from the foregoing. For we now

say that he who has the liberty to partake ([seven Greek word cannot be

converted into ASCII text]) in deliberative or judicial office is a citizen

of this polis, and that the polis is the multitude of such people which is

sufficient for self-sufficient life, to speak without qualification.(80)

This is a revision of his earlier statement that "a citizen without qualification is defined by no other thing than partaking in judgment and office."(81) For Aristotle, indeed, being a citizen involves possessing a wide range of political rights: for example, to elect office holders, to be eligible for office, to prosecute alleged malefactors, or to defend oneself in lawsuits. However, the essential right of a citizen is the liberty to partake of deliberative or judicial office.

Against this interpretation Schofield (p. 842) suggests that [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] merely refers to the "potential" for political participation and that the final definition may not in fact be Aristotle's considered view. On Schofield's view, apparently, Aristotle is only defining a potential citizen at 1275b17-21 and the earlier definition at 1275a22-3 best fits his views.(82) However, Schofield's reading of Politics 3.1 seems implausible. In this chapter Aristotle considers a series of proposed definitions of the citizen and finds each of them wanting because it includes noncitizens or omits citizens. The definition at 1275a22-3 in terms of actual participation has to be revised to cover citizens who hold "indefinite" offices (that is, with indefinite terms) such as assemblyman or juror, and Aristotle then says that the definition ([seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) which applies to all of those so-called citizens is "nearly this sort of thing."(83) However, he then points out a difficulty with even this definition, because in some polises someone may be a citizen even if he does not actually hold office. The previous definition applied to democracy but not to certain forms of oligarchy lacking an assembly. However, "the definition ([nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text])(84) of the citizen is capable of correction,"(85) because in such oligarchies the citizen is one who is definite (namely, in term) regarding his office. Hence, he offers his final definition in the passage cited above, beginning with the words, "Who the citizen is, is evident therefore from the foregoing," which implies that it is his considered view of the subject.(86)

If it is granted that political liberties have a place within Aristotle's theory of political rights, how important is it? I have argued that they have a less central place than in modern liberal theories, because Aristotle valued liberty but only as an external good rather than as an essential constituent of the human end. Hence, I granted that Aristotle might not have what T. H. Irwin calls "morally distinctive rights," that is, rights which could not be justified ultimately in terms of whether one's having them is morally best, all things considered.(87)

Roderick Long questions the necessity of these "concessions," and argues that Aristotle does allow for "a right to do wrong" and that he views freedom and liberty as not merely instrumentally but also as intrinsically valuable. Concerning the first issue, Long (pp. 778-9) calls attention to the fact that Aristotle allows for optional rights, where the agent has the right either to do or not do a given act. Long also argues plausibly that in order to exercise a virtue such as generosity the donor must have the optional right either to make a gift or not.(88) In order to act virtuously agents must therefore have the liberty to follow one course of action or another. Long seems correct in asserting that Aristotle would hold that individuals have the right to make some choices even where it is possible that they will fail to act virtuously. Even if Aristotle justifies rights ultimately on the basis of their promise to virtuous life, it does not follow that one possesses any given right only if one is actually exercising it in a virtuous manner. This suggests an answer to Kraut's worry (p. 767) that on Aristotle's view one would not violate a bad person's rights by taking his property. Aristotle holds that every citizen has rights to the external goods, for example, property, which he needs in order to exercise virtues such as generosity and friendship in a virtuous manner. This implies that the property holder has the liberty to choose to do what he ought to, and he retains this right even if he acts in a stingy manner. Nonetheless, such rights are far more circumscribed in Aristotle's theory than they are in modern liberalism. The citizen is expected to make his property available for common use. He should be educated to conduct himself virtuously, and Aristotle would probably hold that if his vicious behavior is sufficiently flagrant he should be subject to social and legal sanctions, including fines.(89) Hence, it would be misleading to interpret Aristotle as endorsing a "right to do wrong" in the modern sense.

Long (pp. 787-98) also challenges my claim that Aristotle regards freedom or liberty as an external good of merely instrumental value. I said, "The aim of the individual should not be unlimited liberty but moral perfection, which is achieved through conformity to the constitution."(90) Long's critique contains valuable insights to which I cannot do full justice here, but I would like to respond to his main points. First, my claim that Aristotle treats liberty ([seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) as an external good is based on his argument at NE 10.8.1178a23-b7 that the practice of ethical virtue requires "external equipment": for example, generosity and justice require property (seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]), courage requires power ([seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]), and temperance requires liberty ([seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]). Aristotle argues from this that the contemplative life is superior because it is more self-sufficient: whereas noble action requires many external things, "the contemplator does not need them, at any rate for his activity, and is even so to speak hindered by them with regard to his contemplation." This indicates that Aristotle views liberty (seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) as an external good. On the other hand, Long is correct to point out that freedom ([nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) and liberty ([seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) are not identified by Aristotle, so that the above passage does not show that Aristotle regards freedom also an external good. Freedom, on Aristotle's view, is fundamentally the condition of existing for one's own sake rather than for the sake of another.(91) This implies that it is part of the human end. Nonetheless, freedom implies living in a voluntary condition, so that it is incompatible with despotic or tyrannical rule.(92) Hence, Aristotelian freedom involves liberty,(93) but it is not to be merely identified with liberty. Thus he rejects the democrats' identification of freedom with the liberty to do whatever one wishes, and maintains that living for the constitution should be regarded not as slavery but as salvation.(94) A similar sentiment was expressed by Pope John Paul II during a visit to the United States:

One hundred thirty years ago, President Lincoln asked whether a nation

"conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are

created equal" could "long endure." President Lincoln's question is no

less a question for the present generation of Americans. Democracy cannot

be sustained without a shared commitment to certain moral truths about the

human person and human community. The basic question before a democratic

society is, "How ought we to live together?" In seeking an answer to this

question, can society exclude moral truth and moral reasoning? ... Surely

it is important for America that the moral truths which make freedom

possible should be passed on to each new generation. Every generation of

Americans needs to know that freedom--freedom--consists not in doing what

we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.(95)

This understanding of freedom as "the right to do what we ought" is closer to Aristotle than to those contemporary rights theories which are wedded to the principles that the right is prior to the good and that the primary function of rights is to define morally neutral spheres of conduct. Aristotle's citizens share a conception of the moral life, and the role of rights is to enable them to lead flourishing moral lives.

Aristotle's reservations about liberty, as well as about equality, help to account for the complicated relationship between the Aristotelian political tradition and early modern rights theory which is detailed by A. S. McGrade. Aristotle and the medieval Aristotelians made important contributions to the framework for political thought within which modern theorists came to think in terms of "natural rights." The idea of natural rights was arguably taking root before William of Ockham as early as the twelfth century,(96) although it is also true that orthodox Aristotelians resisted the more libertarian and egalitarian tendencies of the new theories of natural rights. Especially non-Aristotelian was the critique of slavery premised upon the natural equality of all human beings, which is already evident in Aquinas and is explicit in later Aristotelians like Francisco de Vitoria and Bartolome Las Casas. On the other hand Aristotle provided the principle which modern critics wielded against all forms of slavery: naturally equal human beings should be treated equally.

Ockham is a widely recognized seminal figure in the modern natural rights tradition. He defined the notion of the right of use (ius utendi) as "a licit power of using an external thing of which one ought not to be deprived against one's will, without one's own fault and without reasonable cause, and if one has been deprived, one can call the depriver into court." More generally, Jean Gerson defined a right as "an immediate faculty or power pertaining to someone in accordance with a dictate of right reason."(97) Historians have been impressed by the emphasis upon power (potestas) in these definitions, and how this forms the basis for the modern idea of "subjective right." This is not merely the idea that rights belong to subjects, but also that rights are in some way expressions of their free wills. Hence, ius becomes closely linked to libertas in modern rights theory.(98) Although this was a decisively modern turn, McGrade (pp. 820-1) points out ways in which Aristotle arguably prepared the way for it. The doctrine of subjective right presupposed a doctrine of objective right, which arguably developed out of an Aristotelian understanding of human nature consisting of a range of natural and developed powers or abilities. Moreover, Ockham and other rights theorists continued to invoke Aristotelian political principles, for example, that the just government promotes the advantage of the ruled and that rule over free persons is superior to rule over slaves (McGrade, p. 822). Even the modern conception of rights as powers is congenial to Aristotle's emphasis on dunamis or potentiality as a central notion in every branch of knowledge, and it is not surprising that a concept of a right as a licit power would have appealed to political theorists schooled on Aristotle (cf. McGrade, pp. 826-7).

I have argued that Aristotle is a progenitor of what came to be known as "natural rights" theory, and I have called attention to parallels between his political theory and modern theories. Some scholars tend to focus on political discourse rather than political thought and to argue that political vocabulary is intelligible only in terms of "rhetorics" and "language games" belonging to a concrete political context. They tend as a result to emphasize discontinuities between different epochs. This attitude is evidently shared by Schofield (p. 856-7), who is wary of retranslation of ancient terms into modern as a strategy for understanding Aristotle's ideas. Undeniably there are deep differences between ancient and modern political views, but it is reasonable to look for continuity as well as change in the history of political philosophy. In this spirit I have argued that there is the compelling evidence for nascent rights in Aristotle. This serves to illuminate the way in which he applies the principle of justice in his constitution and also helps us to understand how modern natural rights theories--so different in detail from his political theory--became an important part of his intellectual legacy.(99) Correspondence to: Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio 43403-0188. (1) Ernest Barker, The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle (London: Methuen and Company, 1906), 235. I cite other examples in chapter 4 of Fred D. Miller, Jr., Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's Politics (hereafter NJR) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). (2) The following articles appear in this issue of The Review of Metaphysics: Julia Annas, "Aristotle on Human Nature and Political Virtue," pp. 731753; John M. Cooper, "Justice and Rights in Aristotle's Politics," pp. 859-872; Richard Kraut, "Are There Any Natural Rights in Aristotle?" pp. 755-774; Roderick T. Long, "Aristotle's Conception of Freedom," pp. 775-802; A. S. McGrade, "Aristotle's Place in the History of Natural Rights," pp. 803-829; and Malcolm Schofield, "Sharing in the Constitution," pp. 831-858. I cite these essays in parentheses by page number, and by author's name where this is not obvious. (3) See Politics 3.12.1282b16-18; cf. Nicomachean Ethics (hereafter NE) 5.1.1129b14-19, 8.9.1160a13-14. (4) I am using "individualistic" in a narrow sense to characterize a theory of justice. In applying it to Aristotle I do not mean to imply that Aristotle thinks that the good varies from individual to individual, that the good is defined by subjective choice or desire, that individuals should be free to do whatever they wish, and so forth. (5) Eduard Zeller, Aristotle and the Earlier Peripatetics, trans. B. F. C. Costelloe and J. H. Muirhead (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1897), 2:224--6. (6) I present the evidence for this in detail in chapter 6 of NJR and can only refer briefly to a few important passages here. Aristotle's critique of Plato's Republic in Politics 2 not only contains a critique of the communistic schemes of property and child-rearing, but also concludes with an explicit critique of Plato's (alleged) claim that the lawgiver should make "the polls as a whole" happy without regard to the happiness of its individual members (5.1264b15-24). In Politics 3.6.1278b21-4 Aristotle explicitly connects the common advantage ([fifteen Greek words cannot be converted to ASCII text]) with the noble life faring to each ([six Greek words cannot be converted to ASCII text]) individual. He describes "the best constitution" as that order under which anyone whatsoever ([eight Greek words cannot be converted to ASCII text]) might act in the best way and live blessedly" (7.2.1324a23-5). Additional evidence is provided by his arguments that all citizens of the best constitution should have access to property and education (see section II below). (7) See Politics 1.2.1252b27-30. (8) See Politics 1.1.1252a4-6. (9) See Politics 1.2.1253a1-3. (10) Politics 1.2.1252b30-4 (author's translation). All translations are the author's unless otherwise indicated. Regarding the role of nature in Aristotle's ethics and politics, I am in substantial agreement with Annas, pp. 731-6. For further discussion of Aristotle's political naturalism, see Miller, NJR, chap. 2, and--, "Naturalism," in The Cambridge History of Ancient Political Thought, ed. Malcolm Schofield and C. J. Rowe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). A useful overview of interpretations of Aristotelian teleology is Allan Gotthelf, "Aristotle's Teleology," in Final Causality in Nature and Human Affairs, ed. R. F. Hassing (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, forthcoming). (11) Cf. Politics 1.2.1253a18-29. (12) Cf. Politics 3.17.1287b37-1. (13) According to Locke, in the state of nature all mankind comprise "one community" under the law of nature. See Second Treatise 9.218, cited by Long, p. 784 n. 37. (14) This is not to rule out the possibility of reconstructing a notion of "rights against the government" from some of Aristotle's remarks. For example, he seems to imply that there could be a "right of revolution" when he says, "Those who excel in virtue would engage in faction most justly of all, but they do this the least; for these alone have the best reason to be unequal [that is, superior] without qualification"; Politics 5.1.1301a39-b1. He also says that dissidents may strive against the rulers justly or unjustly; see 2.1302a28-9, b12-14. (15) Here I agree with Schofield, p. 833. Cf. Miller, NJR, 91. (16) See, most notably, Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), 67: "There is no expression in any ancient or medieval language correctly translated by our expression `a right' until the close of the Middle Ages: the concept lacks any means of expression in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or Arabic, classical or medieval, before about 1400, let alone in Old English, or in Japanese as late as the mid-nineteenth century." (17) Bernard Williams, Shame and Necessity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 34; cf. Bernard Knox, The Oldest Dead White European Males (New York: W. W. Norton, 1993), 43-4. (18) Hohfeld, Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1923). Hohfeld's analysis has been adopted widely by moral and political philosophers as well as legal theorists in the twentieth century. (19) Rhetoric 1.9.1366b9-10. (20) Cf. Republic 1.331c3-4. (21) W. L. Newman, The Politics of Aristotle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902; reprint, Salem: Ayer, 1986), 3:133. Cf. Robinson's translation: "Nor is a man a citizen because he shares in the rights of a citizen so far as to sue and be sued, since a commercial treaty may confer that right"; Richard Robinson, trans., Aristotle's Politics Books 3 and 4 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962). Several other translators give the passage similar treatment; see Miller, NJR, 99 n. 31 for references. (22) Cooper (p. 869 n. 25) also disputes my construal of the continuing passage 1275a10-11: "for this ([five Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]) also belongs to those who have a community as a result of treaties, for these [rights] ([five Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII words]) also belong to these persons ([seven Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text])." Cooper argues that [seven Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]; in the second clause refers back to "those who have a community as a result of treaties" in the first clause. This may be right, but I did not take [seven Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] this way because "this" ([five Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]) in the first clause clearly refers to the partaking of [eight Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] (which is the antecedent of "these" [[five Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]] in the second clause), so that on this construal the second clause becomes redundant, because it is logically equivalent to the first clause. This may be why W. D. Ross bracketed the second [three Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text] clause (which is missing from the [[pi].sup.1] family of manuscripts) in his edition of the Politics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957). However, even on Cooper's construal, [eight Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] can be translated as "rights" in the second clause, that is, "for these [rights] also belong to those who have a community as a result of treaties." (23) Demosthenes 24.3, following the translation of J. H. Vince in Demosthenes, vol. 3 (1936; reprint, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986). Vince's translation is accurate because the preceding sentence speaks of the objectionable persons as "stealing your property." (24) See H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar, rev. ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974), 287 n. 1121. (25) Cf. NE 5.4.1132a19-29. Aristotle uses the verbs [nine Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] and [five Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] and other writers use [nine Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]. See the references in Miller, NJR, 98 n. 28. (26) See Demosthenes, 15.25. Cf. 15.29 which states that "the laws grant an equal and common share of private rights ([fifteen Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]) within the constitution to both weak and strong persons," as opposed to "the rights of Greek [city-states] ([nineteen Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text])" which are defined by the strong cities for the weak. (27) Lycophron's view that law is "a guarantor of men's rights against one another" ([twenty-six Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]) at Politics 3.9.1280b11 (where Schofield, p. 15, would translate [ten Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text] as "fair dealings") should be compared with Demosthene's remark that law courts are concerned with "the rights [of citizens] against each other" ([twenty-two Greek words cannot be converted into ASCII text]; 13.16). (28) In NJR, 100 n. 35 I cite a number of translators who use "political rights" or "just claims." More recently, Terence Irwin and Gail Fine translate the expression as "politically just <claim>," in Aristotle: Selections (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1995). Cooper (pp. 871-2) suggests the more noncommittal expression, "the just things of politics," that is, political offices or functions. However, this seems too indefinite. For, although it is true that Aristotle's argument is based on distributive justice, which concerns the distribution of responsibilities as well as rights, the present context makes it clear that the parties to the dispute are alleging that they have just claims--that is, rights--to political office because they have superior attributes. Cooper himself concedes that the context is one in which there is a dispute in which different groups within the polls are making claim to political office by appeal to justice (1283a15-17). That Aristotle is primarily concerned with political rights is also evident from his example of the mines in Politics 3.9 (discussed below). (29) Politics 7.9.1329a23-4. (30) See Politics 7.10.1330a15-18. (31) See Politics 7.13.1332a32-8. (32) Politics 7.13.1332a35-8. (33) Politics 3.9.1280a18 refers to NE 5.3.1131a14-24; Politics 3.12.1282b20 refers to NE 5.31131a11 1-14. (34) NE 5.3.1131a25-9. (35) A mine was worth about a pound (15.2 oz. troy) of silver and equalled 100 drachmas. (36) Politics 3.9.1280a25-31. (37) Politics 3.9.1280b40-1281a8. (38) See Politics 3.12.1283al-3, cf. 9.1281a(8. This presents a problem for Kraut's "analogy with the crafts" (p. 772): "From the fact that the doctor should promote the good of those who are ill, it does not follow that they have a right to be treated by him." The analogy fails, because, although Aristotle compares the lawgiver and politician to a craftsman, there is an important difference: the lawgiver and politician are concerned with a community whose members (including ruler and ruled) cooperate for mutual advantage. Hence, it is their task to establish and maintain a constitution which protects the rights of the participants. (39) The English words "desert" and "merit" have backward-looking and forward-looking connotations respectively. The example of distributing minas on the basis of prior contribution involves desert. The example of distributing flutes to those best qualified to play them involves merit. Because the polls is an ongoing community of overlapping generations, it is reasonable that both desert and merit would be involved in Aristotle's use of [four Greek word cannot be converted in ASCII text]. (40) This account is highly simplified, since communities generally consist of many members, with complex standards of merit or desert, and a wide array of objects to which the members make claims. The subtlety and power of Aristotle's account are demonstrated in an illuminating essay by David Keyt, "Aristotle's Theory of Distributive Justice," in A Companion to Aristotle's Politics, ed. David Keyt and Fred D. Miller, Jr. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991). (41) John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), 4, 10-11. (42) Miller, NJR, 90-1. (43) These passages are discussed in Miller, NJR, 84-6. (44) See Politics 1.2.1252b30-1. (45) See NE 5.7.1134b18-24. (46) I develop and defend this interpretation more fully in "Aristotle on Natural Law and Justice," in A Companion to Aristotle's Politics. (47) Plutarch, Lives, Solon, XV.2. Solon's policy is commended by James Madison in the American Federalist Papers, no. 38. (48) See Politics 7.9.1329a23-4. (49) Cf. Politics 7.14.1333a30. (50) See Politics 4.11.1295a25-34; cf. 3.13.1284b19. (51) Cf. Politics 7.3 which states that "[ten Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] is a sort of action, and the actions of just and temperate persons involve many noble things as an end" (1325a32-4), and goes on to argue that flourishing correctly understood does not require conflict and despotic rule (1325a34-b10). On the natural limit to acquisition of external goods such as property, see Politics 1.8, which I discuss in NJR, 317-21. (52) This interpretation is developed in chapters 7 and 8 of NJR. (53) Aristotle says that if someone commits suicide, he does injustice not to himself (because no one voluntarily suffers injustice), but to the polls, presumably because he is shirking his responsibilities as a citizen; see NE 5.11. 1138a9-14; cf. Plato Phaedo 62b1-8 for the religious version of the argument). (54) See Politics 7.3.1325a32-4. (55) For a persuasive defense of moderate intellectualism, see David Keyt, "Intellectualism in Aristotle," in Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy ed. J. P. Anton and A. Preus (Albany: SUNY Press, 1983), 2:364-87. Kraut has defended an interpretation of Aristotle which is closer to strict intellectualism in Aristotle on the Human Good (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989). This involves complicated and controversial issues of interpretation, which cannot be argued here. The main point is that the moderate individualist interpretation (which I believe is correct) permits the citizens to make personal concessions in the form of virtuous actions, including laying down their lives in defense of the polis. (56) C. C. W. Taylor, "Politics," in The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 250; cited by Annas, p. 9. (57) For example, Mary Nichols, Citizens and Statesmen: A Study of Aristotle's Politics (Lanham: Rowrnan and Littlefield, 1992), 145. (58) See Politics 3.9.1280a31-4. (59) See Politics 7.7.1327b23-38. (60) See Politics 7.14.1334al-2. (61) Newman understands Aristotle to be implicitly criticizing practices such as the Spartans who kept Greeks as helots and slaves. Newman's interpretation is supported by the fact that Aristotle explicitly criticizes helotry in Politics 2.9; see Newman, The Politics of Aristotle, 3:393-4. (62) I discuss different approaches to this passage in NJR, 242 n. 127. (63) See Politics 1328b37-40; cf. 3.5.1278a17-21. (64) Cf. Politics 1329a19-21, cf. 1278a8-11. (65) See Politics 4.4.1291a1-2. (66) Newman, The Politics of Aristotle, 3:342, cf 3:374. (67) Politics 3.5.1278a6-8. (68) Newman, The Politics of Aristotle, 3:175. (69) See Miller, NJR, 244-5; also cf. Politics 8.2.1337b5-21. (70) See Politics 8.6.1341b8-15; cf. 2.1337b5-21, 7.17.1336a39-41. (71) Cf. Problems 4.26.879b27, where the verb [twelve Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] is used for a perversion arising from a natural sexual incapacity. This work is either by Aristotle or an early Peripatetic author. (72) Cooper, p. 9. 12 concedes that the text is indecisive but contends that Aristotle can hardly have seriously intended that there were no native-born free persons outside of the fully educated citizen body. Cooper maintains that Aristotle must have recognized disenfranchised second-class citizens whose advantage in some extended sense falls within the common advantage which the rules are supposed to promote. (Cooper would prefer not to call them "second-class citizens," but it is hard to regard them otherwise.) Although Cooper's essay, "Political Animals and Civic Friendship" (cited in his n. 18) is a valuable discussion, I see no textual evidence for his solution to the problem he cites, i.e., that Aristotle recognizes second-class citizens partaking of second-hand happiness, or that justice is served by their doing so. Nor do I see any evidence that Aristotle worried about Cooper's problem, about whether disenfranchised free native inhabitants of the best polls were happy. The simplest (and in my view most plausible) explanation for this is that Aristotle simply assumed that there were not any free native noncitizens in the polls "of our prayers." It is only when Aristotle turns to more realistic scenarios in Politics 4-6 that he addresses the question of how justice can be achieved with an inferior population; cf. 4. 11.1295a25-34. (73) See Miller, NJR, 248-51. (74) The rest of this paragraph is a brief summary of Miller, NJR, 101-4, which provides extensive references. (75) Cf. Politics 3.6.1278b32-4, 1279a21. (76) See Politics 6.2.1317a40-b17. (77) Cf. ibid. This connection is made by the partisans of democracy as well. Just as Plato connects the democratic principle of free speech ([eight Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) with liberty ([seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) (Republic 8.557b4-6), Demosthenes (51.19) remarks that, because Athenian citizens partake of a common constitution, "he who wishes has the liberty to speak" ([twenty one Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]). (78) See Politics 1.7.1255b20; cf. NE 5.6.1134a26-8. (79) See Politics 3.1.1275b18-19. (80) 1275b17-21. As Irwin and Fine remark, "In contexts such as this `have a right' would be appropriate"; Aristotle: Selections, 468 n. 14. (81) Politics 1275a22-3. (82) In support of his view that 1275a22-3 gives the "official definition", Schofield (p. 841) translates it, "A citizen is best defined without qualification not by any of the other distinctions [sc. just mentioned], but by sharing in judicial decision and rule." However, Schofield's "best" corresponds to nothing in the Greek, and he takes [five Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text], "without qualification" to modify the verb [eight Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text], "is defined." But [five Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] probably modifies [7 Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text], "citizen," as in the preceding sentence: "We are seeking the citizen in the unqualified sense ([fifteen Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text])"; cf. Newman, The Politics of Aristotle, 3:136. (83) politics 1275a33-4. (84) Schofield (p. 840) objects that [nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] means "determination" here rather than "definition," so that Aristotle is correcting his interpretation of the definition rather than correcting the definition as such. However, [nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] probably means "definition" at 1275b13, because Aristotle's point is that his previous revision of the 1275a33-4 definition (that is, inserting "indefinite" before "office") will not suffice. Immanuel Bonitz's Index Aristotelis (1870; reprint, Berlin: De Guyter, 1961) gives notio ac definitio as the sense for [nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] at 1275b13 and cites several parallels, including the [nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] (definition) of democracy at 3.8.1279b20. (85) Politics 3.1.1275b13. (86) Schofield (p. 842) also cites Aristotle's statement that the person who shares in the positions of honor is "most especially" ([seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) called a citizen (3.5.1278a36). However, this is not intended as a definition of the citizen. It is noteworthy that Politics 3.5 follows a discussion of whether the good citizen and the good human being are one and the same, and the chapter begins by asking whether his final definition is true, that is, whether the citizen is one who has the liberty ([seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) to take part in rule, or disenfranchised vulgar persons should be counted as citizens (1277b33-5). Although he also describes the latter as "those who do not partake of offices" ([eighteen Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]), this follows trivially from the fact that they do not have the liberty to take part. Aristotle goes on to distinguish different sorts of constitution and different kinds of citizen. The vulgar person cannot be a citizen of an aristocracy where offices ([five Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) are based on virtue and merit (1278a15-21). When Aristotle speaks of the person who is "most especially ([8 Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) called a citizen" at 1278a36, he is referring to the best specimen, the citizen of aristocracy. This use of [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] may be compared with the statement that a human being is more ([six Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) of a political animal than other animals (1.2.1253a78), although other animals satisfy his definition of political animal; cf. History of Animals 1.1.487b33-488a11. (87) See Miller, NJR, 116. (88) Cf. Politics 2.5.1263b10-15. (89) Cf. NE 10.9.1179b31-1180a5. (90) Miller, NJR, 250-1. (91) See Metaphysics 1.2.982b26. (92) See Politics 4.10.1295a22-4. (93) Long (p. 794) cites Metaphysics 12.12.1075a18-23 in an attempt to drive a wedge between [nine Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] and [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]. However, in this context [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text] (verb form of [seven Greek word cannot be converted into ASCII text]) means metaphysical rather than political liberty: it is not open to the free members of the household to act according to chance, presumably because they have been morally habituated. (94) See Politics 5.9.1310a31-6. (95) Homily delivered October 8, 1995 in Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Text printed in the New York Times, 9 October 1995, p. B15. (96) In addition to the work of Brian Tierney cited by A. S. McGrade, p. 808 n. 10, see McGrade's own essay, "Rights, Natural Rights, and the Philosophy of Law," in The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy, ed. Norman Kretzmann, Anthony Kenny, and Jan Pinborg (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982). (97) Cf. McGrade (pp. 818-20), citing Ockham, Opus nonaginta dierum, chap. 2, and Gerson, De vita spirituali animae, chap. 3. (98) Brian Tierney has shown that ius is tied to potestas and libertas as early as the twelfth century. See his "Origin of Natural Rights Language: Texts and Contexts, 1150-1250," History of Political Thought 10 (1989): 615-46. (99) I am grateful to Liberty Fund and to all of the conference participants for many valuable insights.
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Title Annotation:Aristotle's 'Politics': A Symposium
Author:Miller, Fred D., Jr.
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Date:Jun 1, 1996
Previous Article:Justice and rights in Aristotle's 'Politics.'(Aristotle's 'Politics': A Symposium)
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