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Aristotle on Democracy and the Marketplace

  • Fred D. MillerJr.Email author
Chapter
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 132)

Abstract

Aristotle includes democracy among the deviant constitutions. Democracy, as he understands it is, is not merely rule by the many but rule by a multitude lacking in virtue. Democracy takes different forms, but among the worst, he contends, is one like the Athenian democracy which numbers merchants among the citizens. For occupations such as commerce and banking are inherently vicious. Consequently, the democracies in which the mercantile class is prominent are especially unjust, corrupt, and unstable. In this essay I examine and evaluate Aristotle’s indictment of commercial democracy. Since his argument ultimately rests on his theory of moral virtue, I set forth the basic principles of Aristotle’s theory of virtue and consider how he applies them to common commercial practices. I then reflect on whether Aristotle would have arrived at similar conclusions about these practices if he had been acquainted with the basic principles of microeconomics. Finally, I consider the implication of this assessment for Aristotle’s critique of Athenian democracy.

Keywords

Constitutions Commerce Democracy Exchange Justice 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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