Aristotle and Political Responsibility

Winthrop, Delba. "Aristotle and Political Responsibility." Political Theory, 3 (4): 406-422 (1975).


“When citizens take politics seriously, their actions and their unsophisticated explanations of them imply that politics is something on which they, as rational and moral beings, can have some effect: they make deliberate choices, and such choices are asserted to be essential in politics. When political scientists take politics seriously, however, their science leads them to deny the reasonableness of the premise on which responsible citizenship rests. They find that the cause of politics is not deliberate choice, but the preferences of those with influence, and preferences and the distribution of influence are set either to be arbitrary, or traceable to certain necessary causes. Thus politics and political science rest on different presuppositions. Yet we might wish that political science could do justice to politics and at the same time satisfy us that it is scientific. My purpose here is to study this problem and Aristotle’s proposed solution to it, as found in the first part of the third book of his politics.”

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