Aristotle’s Understanding of Forms of Government

Aristotle’s Understanding of Forms of Government

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

According to Aristotle, forms of government depend on constitutional forms. A constitution, on the other hand, is the regulation of sovereignty in a state. Aristotle, like Plato, speaks of correct and corrupt forms of government.

Since the reason for the state is the common interest of the people, the gathering of people for the general interest of the society, only the administrations aiming at achieving the common interest of the society will be the right forms of administration.

According to Aristotle, there are six forms of government.

Forms of Government According to Aristotle
Monarchy
Aristocracy
Politeia
Tyranny
Oligarchy
Democracy

Three of them are right and three are bad forms of government. Corrupted management styles arise when correct management styles are corrupted. Accordingly, monarchy is the right form of government and tyranny is the wrong form of government in the forms of government in which one person is dominant.

In forms of government in which a few people are dominant, aristocracy is the right form of government, and oligarchy is the wrong form of government. In the form of government in which everyone is dominant, the constitutional order or legal government (politeia) is the right, democracy is the wrong form of government.

Accordingly, the kingdom (monarchy), aristocracy and constitutional government are forms of government whose goal is the common good of the society. Corresponding to these, corrupt governments emerge with the deterioration of these forms of government.

Tyranny with the corruption of the monarchy, oligarchy with the corruption of the aristocracy, and democracy with the corruption of the constitutional government. These corrupt forms of government, unlike the correct forms of government, do not pursue the common good.

Tyranny is a form of monarchy in which the state is ruled by tyranny. The group that controls the oligarchy consists of the rich, not the virtuous people. Democracy is the rule in the hands of the majority of the people.

Aristotle says that three of the six forms of government are correct and all three are corrupt.

Correct Forms of Management According to Aristotle
Monarchy
Aristocracy
Politeia
Corrupt Government Styles According to Aristotle
Tyranny
Oligarchy
Democracy

According to Aristotle, although the ideal or best state forms are monarchy or aristocracy, the best form of government in practice will be the constitutional order (politeia). While the constitutional order is not ideally the best government, it is one that is more likely to be realized.

Aristotle also states that what determines whether these governments are good or bad will be based on the definition of justice. Different forms of government have different definitions of justice.

While justice is equality for the people of democracy, justice for the oligarchy is that those who have more wealth have more political rights. Everyone agrees that justice is treating equals equally and unequals unequally. The problem here is who is equal and who is unequal.

Those who are wealthy in the oligarchy think that their rights in state administration should also be proportional to their wealth. Since everyone is free in a democracy, those who think that they are equal in all respects argue that everyone has equal political rights. However, the purpose of the state is neither to provide absolute equality nor wealth to its citizens.

There is no real purpose of the state without a moral purpose. If the state is something that exists for the good, then government and sovereignty should not be given to the free, nor to the nobility, nor to the rich. Instead, it should be given to the good.

Aristotle, after identifying the six forms of government corresponding to these six forms of constitution, discusses these forms of government in detail and divides them into sub-types.

He says that tyranny, which is the corrupt form of monarchy, is the worst form of government, that oligarchy, which is the corrupt form of aristocracy, is a less bad form than tyranny, and that democracy is the least bad form of government, although it is a corrupt form of government.

After determining how many types of constitutions there are, Aristotle discusses which constitution is the most applicable constitution, which form of government is suitable for which form of society, how these forms of government should be arranged and how constitutions can be abolished and changed.

According to Aristotle, management changes can take various forms. With only a constitutional amendment, the administration can be changed, or the revolutionaries can only seize power without changing the constitution.

Also, a revolution can make an oligarchy or democracy more or less oligarchy or democracy. But the important thing is the reasons for the revolution for Aristotle.

The reason for the revolution is the one-sided and perverted understanding of justice that people put forward. Aristotle always made these determinations on the basis of the state and government forms that existed in his time.

Aristotle says that determining the ideal constitution depends on what life is best suited to be chosen. That is why the question of what is the best life is important. If virtue is important for a single person, it is also important for the state, which is made up of individual people.

Young people are the first duty of a legislator.