Skip to main content

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.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science
Print ISSN 0003-6390
Publisher De Gruyter
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Hatzistavrou, A. (in press). Aristotle on the Authority of the Many: Politics III 11, 1281a40–b21. Apeiron,
Keywords Aristotle, politics, authority of the many, political excellence
Publisher URL


This file is under embargo until Sep 18, 2020 due to copyright reasons.

Contact to request a copy for personal use.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations