The Rules And Duties Of Citizens And

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The Rules And Duties Of Citizens And Rulers According To Plato, Machiavelli And Aristotle Essay, Research Paper Political philosophy is part of the most influential and enduring texts in all of history. The Aristotelian tradition, following from the philosophy of Plato and continuing in the writings of other modern political philosophers such as Machiavelli, has formed the setting against which all succeeding political and moral philosophy has founded its orientation. The respective rights and duties of the citizens and the ruler as described in Plato’s Apology, Machiavelli’s Prince, and Aristotle’s Politics can be compared and contrasted in various ways. According to Socrates in Plato’s Apology, citizens have the right to philosophize in pursuit of truth and

perfecting the soul. Socrates was charged with preaching this message to the youth of Athens (Jowett 4). Machiavelli, on the other hand, did not concentrate on the right of philosophizing but rather on the right of citizens becoming dependent on the prince. If citizens were dependent on the prince, then revolts were less likely to occur (Wooton 32). Aristotle’s reasoning of citizen rights dealt with participation in office. He believed that citizens had the right to participate in the affairs of the city only if their parents were both citizens as well (Reeve 65). Despite the fact that Socrates, Machiavelli and Aristotle have different beliefs about the rights of citizens, it can be inferred that they would all agree on the right of citizens to be ruled by a greater and wiser

force. Along with the rights of citizens are the duties. Socrates believed that an important duty of citizens was to improve the state through self-knowledge. In Socrates’ view, the health and prosperity of the state would follow if every one of the citizens were wise and virtuous, but no set of laws can ensure such health and prosperity if the citizens act unjustly. Besides the citizens’ duty of obtaining virtue, Socrates feels it is his personal duty in to the God of the oracle to continue questioning men who think they are wise in order to show them that they are not (Jowett 15). Machiavelli also believed that citizens had a responsibility to obtain virtu. In Italian, the word virtu means strength, ability, courage, and vitality. Machiavelli suggested that the maintenance

of liberty in a republic depends on the virtu of the citizens (Wooton 18). Aristotle believed that citizens had a duty, along with the right, to hold office and make decisions. He further explains the duties of citizens in chapter four in his book Politics’ with the examination of the virtue of a good man in comparison with that of a good citizen. Aristotle stated that a citizen is somewhat like a sailor, one among a number of partners on a ship, each with different tasks and functions. Although each has a specific virtue according to his capacity and duty on the ship, there is also a general virtue similar to them all, which is the preservation of the ship. In a similar way, the virtue of the citizen is with a view to the regime (Reeve 70). Despite the different

interpretations, all three philosophers can agree that if citizens fulfill their duty of having virtue or virtu, the city will thrive. Citizens are not the only ones with rights. As indicated by Socrates, rulers have the right to question and clarify knowledge rather than to affirm it (Jowett 15). While Machiavelli takes a different approach and implies in chapter seventeen of his book, The Prince that a ruler has the right to be feared than to be loved. He believes that when forced to choose between being feared and being loved, rulers have the right to choose being feared because it is a safer way out, since he thinks men cannot be trusted (Wooton 52). Aristotle believed that the rights of ruler depended on the type of regime. For example, a mastery type of political rule had