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Aristotle’s Views on Plato and Property. PHIL 2011 2006-07. Reprise of Republic class and property system. Two classes: Warriors Husbandmen, craftsmen, and all others; we do not know how property is organized (2.5) Warrior class produces the philosopher-kings;

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Aristotle’s Views on Plato and Property

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Aristotle s views on plato and property l.jpg

Aristotle’s Views on Plato and Property

PHIL 2011


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Reprise of Republic class and property system

  • Two classes:

    • Warriors

    • Husbandmen, craftsmen, and all others; we do not know how property is organized (2.5)

  • Warrior class produces the philosopher-kings;

  • All members of this class subject to community property requirement

  • Actual states such as Sparta and Crete had common meals provided for by product of public or private lands—Aristotle approves of this.

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Property Regime Options

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Private families, common property (2.5)?

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Aristotle’s view of human nature

  • “…surely the love of self is a feeling implanted nature, and not given in vain [nature does nothing in vain]….”

  • What is Plato’s view of human nature?

  • Helpful hint: a political philosopher’s view of HN is often the key to his philosophy!

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Is Aristotle promotingAltruism? If so, how?

  • “’Friends’…will have all things common’”

  • “It is clearly better that property should be private, but the use of it common”;

  • Spartans allow fellow-citizens use of their slaves, dogs and horses!

  • “…there is the greatest pleasure in doing a kindness or service to friends…which can only be rendered when a man has private property.”

  • “…the special business of the legislator [law-giver] is to create in men this benevolent disposition.”

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“Liberality” depends on private property!

  • What is “liberality”?

  • An important Aristotelian virtue, also called “magnanimity”;

  • It means generosity

  • So to be generous we need to have something of our own to give!

  • Consider the case of charity to assist people in need

  • Versus use of public monies

  • Is one way better than the other?

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Regulation of Property

  • Many constitutions recognized influence of property on society;

  • No one else has imitated Plato’ community of women and children;

  • Laws of Solon prohibited unlimited property

  • Phaleas of Chalcedon: equality of possessions

    • Easier in colonies

    • Not very feasible in established states

    • But Lycurgus equalized property at Sparta!

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Property-Population Connection (2.6)

  • If property to be regulated

  • Population must also be regulated scientifically

  • Using actuarial methods: child mortality and sterility rates of couples!

  • Why?

  • Some ancient legislators thought number of families should remain unchanged

  • Aristotle in Book 7: a city may decide to regulate population, even by abortion.

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Why is Inequality a problem?

  • Plato’s “two cities” of the rich and the poor

  • Class war

  • Injustice: some in want, while others luxuriate in riches

  • But equality can also be unjust if parcels are not sufficient to sustain the possessor!

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Moderation in equalization (2.7)

  • If properties equal, they should be of moderate size;

  • Rich should not be made poor, for they will cause revolutions;

  • The real issue is not property size, but men’s desires

  • How are these to be regulated?

  • By education!

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Today’s Question:

  • On page 36, Aristotle suggested that property should be in a certain sense, common; but as a general rule, private. But then he suggested that there will be more quarrels when people have private property than when people have all in common. Do you think it is a strong argument against private property, and do you think it is a viable option to share all in common (wives, children, property, education, honor) within a state? Why and Why not?

  • Things to consider: degree of unity, individualism at that time, self-sufficiency for a state, distribution of property among all citizens in a state.

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