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Introduction

  • Georgios AnagnostopoulosEmail author
  • Gerasimos Santas
Chapter
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 132)

Abstract

Ancient Greek democracies, especially the one that flourished in Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries, were highly participatory—all decisions were directly made by the citizens (qualified males) themselves—and egalitarian—every citizen had an equal political share. This kind of democratic structure, considered by many a revolution in political thought and practice, appeared in the ancient Greek world after many centuries during which city-states were ruled by kingships, aristocracies, oligarchies, or tyrannies—all of them forms of ruling that extensively restricted citizen participation and were strongly non-egalitarian. Democrats defended equal political shares among citizens by appealing to proportional distributive justice and taking as the relevant merit for distribution freedom, in which all citizens were supposedly equal. But even the most advanced of ancient democracies accepted many serious inequalities—in political participation (women and other groups were excluded from having any political share), in freedom (not everyone within a city-state was equally free), and especially in resources and wealth (many citizens were poor)—even though democracy itself may have been a catalyst for economic growth and for moderating wealth inequalities. The essays in this volume examine ancient debates about democracy, justice, and equality/inequality and often point to contemporary debates about these issues in present-day representative democracies.

Keywords

Economic equality and inequality Freedom Justice Political equality and inequality Participatory democracy 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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