Aristotle's Definition Of Citizenship Aristotle's Definition Of Citizenship Essay, Research Paper Aristotle? s Citizenship In book three of his compilation, The Politics, Aristotle mainly discusses three types of constitutions. However, discussion of a state? s constitutions begs the question of the definition of its citizen. Aristotle concludes that the citizen ought to be defined as? those who participate in [an unlimited office]? (170). Aristotle later goes on to claim that the? unlimited office? can include a juror. This allows appropriate expansion of the definition. Applying Aristotle? s definition to today? s constitutions of state and comparing it to current definitions of a citizen shows the prudence of his interpretation.
It seems that Aristotle? s definition of a citizen is leaning toward any person who has decision making impact on the operation of the state. This interpretation is derived from the explanation of his definition and how it relates to the three discussed constitution types. Aristotle concedes that the definition of a citizen? will necessarily vary according to the constitution in each case? (170). It is therefore no wonder that Aristotle claims that his definition is? best applied in a democracy? simply because of the enormous opportunity for citizen interaction within a democracy (170).
However, his definition of a citizen will not be as prudent when applied to an aristocratic form of government or especially a monarchy. Aristotle sidesteps this dilemma by contending that we can? simply replace our? unlimited? office of a juror or member of assembly by? limited? ? (171). Now his definition of citizen has become liberal enough to encompass all types of constitution: ? as soon as a man becomes entitled to participate in office, deliberative or judicial, we deem him to be a citizen? (171). I regard Aristotle? s definition of citizen to be well chosen.
In chapter two of book three he points out that attaching such legalistic bindings such as a person whose parents were citizens is problematic. It seems to be much more fair and judicious to the operation of the state, and thus its rightful citizens, if we keep the definition of a citizen contingent upon constitutional interaction. This will provide for a much more interactive state; which will undoubtedly become more stable and desirable during the course of its existence. Aristotle agrees this to be a potential problem when he asks, ? The question here is not? Are these persons citizens? ? , but whether they are citizens justly or unjustly? ? (172). Aristotle? s definition of a citizen is well crafted. It is broad enough to be interpreted and applied to several types of state constitutions and still maintains integrity within the operation of the state and its rightful citizens..