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THE LIMITS OF CITIZENSHIP IN ARISTOTLE'S POLITICS

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This article argues for two main theses concerning Aristotle's Politics. The first is that outside the explicit discussion of citizenship in 3.1-5 'citizen' is used without reference to the criterion of legal eligibility which plays a central role in 3.1's account, and is instead used with reference to the non-legal attributes of individuals. The second is that there are differences with respect to virtue among those who claim citizenship based on 'free birth' and that Aristotle holds that a citizen should have a minimal level of virtue, which excludes some of the free born. These theses are then brought to bear on the controversial thesis that the common interest is the interest of the citizens. The conception of 'citizen' related to the common interest must not be tied to eligibility (as per the first thesis) and must include a minimal level of virtue (as per the second) such that the individual can participate in a correct regime. These results taken together suggest that the explicit account in 3.1 should be displaced as the primary account of the citizen.
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Keywords: Aristotle; banausic; birth; citizen; collapse problem; common interest; free-born; polis; politics; regime; virtue; vulgar

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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