Deviant Constitutions

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:
Deviant Constitutions

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In addition to his study of correct constitutions, Aristotle investigated the entire spectrum of regimes existing in his day. Aristotle believes that it is a proper task for politics and legislation to deal with deviant or imperfect constitutions such as oligarchy and democracy (which he distinguished from polity or correct rule by the many). In seeking to preserve and reform imperfect constitutions and prevent revolution, Aristotle employs a maxim of superiority: that the part of the polis (city‐state) that supports the constitution ought to be superior to the part that does not. Although this maxim can clearly come into conflict with justice, Aristotle regards it as a defensible normative precept when it is the closest feasible approximation to justice that is attainable under adverse circumstances.

Keywords: Aristotle; constitution; justice; legislation; politics; reform; revolution; rights; state

Chapter.  15037 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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