Aristotle, Equity, and Democracy

Aristotle, Equity, and Democracy Aristotelian equity (epieikeia) has often been relegated to scholarly discussions of retributive justice. Recently, however, political theorists have recast equity as the virtue of a sympathetic democratic citizen. I build on this literature by offering a more precise explanation of equity’s internal structure and political significance. In particular, I reveal equity’s deliberative dimension. For Aristotle, equitable citizens, statesmen, and legislators correct or go beyond the law, as appropriate, not only when they render retrospective judgments about matters of punishment or distribution, but also when they deliberate about future-oriented questions of legislation or political action. In addition, I show, more concretely, the role of equity in democratic citizenship. Drawing upon the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians, I argue that the Athenian demos exemplified equity when it brought about the reconciliation and the amnesty of 403 BC. Attention to this episode clarifies the conceptual linkages between equity, deliberation, sympathy, and democracy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought Brill

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0142-257x
eISSN
2051-2996
DOI
10.1163/20512996-12340171
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Aristotelian equity (epieikeia) has often been relegated to scholarly discussions of retributive justice. Recently, however, political theorists have recast equity as the virtue of a sympathetic democratic citizen. I build on this literature by offering a more precise explanation of equity’s internal structure and political significance. In particular, I reveal equity’s deliberative dimension. For Aristotle, equitable citizens, statesmen, and legislators correct or go beyond the law, as appropriate, not only when they render retrospective judgments about matters of punishment or distribution, but also when they deliberate about future-oriented questions of legislation or political action. In addition, I show, more concretely, the role of equity in democratic citizenship. Drawing upon the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians, I argue that the Athenian demos exemplified equity when it brought about the reconciliation and the amnesty of 403 BC. Attention to this episode clarifies the conceptual linkages between equity, deliberation, sympathy, and democracy.

Journal

Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political ThoughtBrill

Published: Sep 17, 2018

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