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Aristotle on the Authority of the Many: Politics III 11, 1281a40-b21

Hatzistavrou, Antony



In this article I propose a new interpretation of Aristotle's arguments about the authority of the many at Politics III 11, 1281a40-b21. It consists of the following main tenets. First, the multitude that Aristotle refers to in his arguments should be understood on the model of the multitude which rules in polities and the members of which are accomplished in only a part of political excellence, namely, military excellence. Second, the best citizens with whom he compares that multitude in his arguments do not possess complete political excellence but rather the highest degree of military excellence among their fellow citizens in a polity. Third, the members of that multitude are collectively superior to the best citizens in making decisions about political particulars, for example, decisions about specific policies. Fourth, their superiority can be explained by reference to the fact that they collectively possess superior experience than the best citizens, though they have individually and collectively inferior political understanding. Finally, their collective superiority in making political decisions is the outcome of the aggregation of their individual political judgements that are based on experience rather than the outcome of some form of public deliberation that enables them to grasp the political reasons which support their decisions.


Hatzistavrou, A. (2021). Aristotle on the Authority of the Many: Politics III 11, 1281a40-b21. Apeiron, 54(2), 203-232.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 21, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 17, 2019
Publication Date Apr 1, 2021
Deposit Date Aug 19, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 18, 2020
Journal Apeiron
Print ISSN 0003-6390
Electronic ISSN 2156-7093
Publisher De Gruyter
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 54
Issue 2
Pages 203-232
Keywords Aristotle, politics, authority of the many, political excellence
Public URL
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Copyright Statement
© 2019 Walter de Gruyter Inc., Boston/Berlin.

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