Chapter

Nature and Politics

Fred D. Miller

in Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's Politics

Published in print May 1997 | ISBN: 9780198237266
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598043 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019823726X.003.0002
Nature and Politics

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Aristotle's politics may be characterized as ‘naturalistic’, in the sense that it assigns a fundamental role to the concept of nature in the explanation and evaluation of the political community. Aristotle's naturalism is summed up in three claims: the polis (city‐state) exists by nature, human beings are by nature political animals, and the polis is by nature prior to the individual. Aristotle has been accused of inconsistency because he also asserts that the human lawgiver brings the polis into existence. This chapter, however, defends Aristotle's theory by arguing that his complex natural teleology permits nature and legislation to be cooperative causes of the political community. Also compares and contrasts his political naturalism with modern theories on the state.

Keywords: Aristotle; legislation; naturalism; nature; politics; state; teleology

Chapter.  18589 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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