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THE TRAGEDY OF SLAVERY: ARISTOTLE'S RHETORIC AND THE HISTORY OF THE CONCEPT OF NATURAL LAW

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Abstract:

This article focuses on the history of the concept of natural law and the role which Aristotle, and especially his Rhetoric, has to play within it. It is sometimes suggested that the origins of the concept of law are to be located in the writings of Plato and Aristotle in the fourth century BCE. The article argues that there is evidence both in Aristotle's Politics and in his Rhetoric to support the view that this is not the case. In these texts Aristotle suggests that the origins of the concept of natural law lie in the writings of the Sophists in the fifth century, some of whom used natural law arguments to question the legitimacy of slavery.

Keywords: Aristotle; Greek political theory; Natural law; Sophism; Sophocles; history of concepts; history of political thought; natural rights; political concepts; political philosophy; political theory; politics; rhetoric; rights; slavery

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Economics and Politics, Nottingham Trent University, Burton Street, Nottingham, NG1 4BU., Email: tony.burns@ntu.ac.uk

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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