Aristotelian Citizenship for a Multicultural World

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One the debates confronting liberal democracies is how to conceive of citizenship in an age of multiculturalism. Liberal political theorists regard citizenship as primary a legal entity that affords all individuals rights and protections from the power of the state, while multiculturalists contend that citizenship is essentially a cultural phenomenon that should be accorded to groups that are granted certain state privileges. To a certain extent, this debate is exhausted, since both camps proceed from very different assumptions about how one, whether the individual or the group, should be related to the political community. In this chapter and following in the steps of MacIntyre’s work, I propose an Aristotelian conception of citizenship as a path out of this deadlock where the state protects individual rights, while, at the same time, respects the cultural diversity of groups in society.[1]

When MacIntyre’s After Virtue was published in 1981, which sparked a revival of Aristotelianism in ethics and political thought, there already was doubt about the fundamental principles of liberal citizenship, such as the primacy of the individual, the priority of rights, and the neutrality of the state.[2] The abandonment of an overarching idea of a human good and the inability to mount a coherent defense of their own universalist positions has forced liberals to call into question their own conceptions of justice and citizenship.[3] Multiculturalists have been particularly critical of the liberal understanding of citizenship–individual freedom, equality, and a set of rights apart from the state–as contemporary society becomes increasingly culturally diverse.[4] For multiculturalists, the universalist assumptions of liberal citizenship excluded and marginalized certain groups from participating in politics.[5] Because identity is absolute and prescribed rather than determined by one’s position in the social contract, the state therefore should grant representation and autonomy to specific communities, with the result being a mosaic of different cultural groups existing in the state.[6]

For instance, Will Kymlicka argues that the First Nations and Québécois communities should be afforded special rights from the state because of their unique role and history in Canada.[7] Because these political communities possess a common culture, language, and institutions of self-governance prior to the founding of the regime, these minority communities deserve more protection than culturally dominant ones, since the latter entered into the state voluntarily whereas the former were coerced. Another example is Amy Gutmann who believes that multiculturalism (identity politics) is inescapable but critical in shaping democratic politics, whether they are based in race, gender, or sexuality.[8] Instead of abolishing these groups, the state should distinguish the demands of those who advance justice from those that impede it.[9]

However, this vision of separate communities existing in parallel with one another has been recently criticized by some western politicians and academics for obstructing the virtues of liberal citizenship.[10] One of the most common criticisms is that, when citizens become fixated on cultural differences, it can lead them to direct their attention only to their groups and ignore larger common concerns.[11] The ideas of liberal citizenship–a legal category that affords all individuals rights and protections from the power of the state–can be denied by multiculturalists to members of their own group or to members of their non-group. A collective sense of belonging to society as a whole, and the willingness to make compromises and sacrifices for each other, becomes lost, and, in extreme situations, can even lead to violence to settle disputes.[12]

Furthermore, it is not clear how multiculturalists would motivate or enable citizens to partake in public discussions and decisions about the common good. According to multiculturalists, citizens from a heterogeneous public would attempt to construct a public-spirited dialogue that is not driven by single-mindedly self-interest but rather be open to the claims of others. But multiculturalists do not show how a group’s interests would be transformed into public appeals of justice, especially as they reject deliberative consensus because they view it is a type of informal oppression (i.e., majority rule). Although multiculturalists seek a public dialogue, or public reasonableness, for its citizens to discuss and decide the common good, they do not provide any pathways for them to achieve it.

Equally discouraging are the results of liberal theorists to establish a public, reasonable, pluralist society, with disagreement about the contents of its foundation or how one should proceed to achieve it.[13] Multiculturalists in particular point that the pluralism of liberal theorists is already committed to basic liberal principles that yield a uniformity of political notions that warrant skepticism.[14] For multiculturalists, any political conception of justice that first requires agreement on some set of liberal values will a priori exclude or marginalize certain groups. In addition to the problems of the liberal’s procedure of how to achieve a common good, the contents of that common good also is criticized as being procedural in nature only.[15] Lacking any substantive content, the liberal’s common good is unable provide any meaningful goods to its citizens, thereby making them non-substantive in character, word, and action.

The result of this debate between liberals and multiculturalists is that both are unable to address the same problem: how citizens can arrive at an understanding of the common good, while, at the same time, respect their society’s cultural diversity. For multiculturalists, they respect cultural diversity but are unable to locate reasons to motive or enable citizens to engage in public dialogue for the common good.[16] For liberals, they can partake in public discussion but one that is not genuinely open to all citizens’ identities and experiences because they presuppose a set of liberal values beforehand.

To move pass this debate, I argue that Aristotelian communitarian provides a path not available either to liberals or multiculturalists. For Aristotle, the citizen, when making political decisions, must take into account both personal interest and the community’s common good. The citizen is able to accomplish this because Aristotelian civic education trains citizens to balance their personal interests, the community’s common good, and virtue itself in making political decisions. However, this ability to juggle these various factors and decide which one is the best depends upon the political community preserving its civic diversity: without this diversity, the citizen is not able to transcend personal interest for the common good, thereby not enabling the political community ever to be just.

Admittedly, the use of Aristotle to account for contemporary debates of citizenship is limited, as Aristotle himself was not a liberal democrat. However, Aristotle’s writings may offer some guidance about how to think of ways to correct the deficiencies in both the liberal and multiculturalist accounts of citizenship. In this sense, I follow those scholars who seek to modify liberalism in an Aristotelian direction rather than replace it entirely with virtue ethics.[17]

In the following sections, I start with a review of Aristotle’s conception of citizenship as political friendship and then examine his distinction between the household and the state. This Aristotelian distinction is critical for my discussion about liberal and multicultural citizenship because it permits a civic diversity of goods to exist in the state while simultaneously allows citizens to see the connection of their parochial interests to the political community’s common good. The chapter concludes with some thoughts about Aristotle’s account of civic education and which Aristotelian insights may be applicable to today’s citizen who lives in a multicultural society.

Political Friendship

For Aristotle, political rule is different from other forms of rule (e.g., despotic, paternal) because it presupposes a distinction between the private and public realms.[18] The private realm is what today we refer to as civil society: non-state actors and their activities, such as the family. By contrast, the public realm is one of political rule where citizens who are free and equal learn how to rule and, in turn, be ruled.[19] Being free and equal, citizens are required to move out of their private considerations into a public realm where they can discuss and decide about the common good for their political community. This good constitutes more than the preservation of their regime: it is political justice itself.[20]

Political justice differs from other types of justice (e.g., distributive, retributive) because it is attentive to the common concerns for all members of the community. Although political justice includes contractual justice for economic activities, distributive justice for social services, and retributive justice for the legal system, it transcend all of them: “It is evident, therefore, that the polis is not a community sharing a location and for the sake of not committing injustice against each other and conducting trade.”[21] These other forms of justice are necessary if there is be a polis but by themselves do not make a polis, for the political community exists for the sake of a complete and self-sufficient life, which only political justice can provide (Politics 1280b30–34).

Political friendship (homonia) sustains the political community and binds its citizens together because they have a shared concern about justice: it arises for fellow citizens when “concerning what is of common interest they share a like judgment, chose the same things, and act on common resolutions.”[22] This concern is not an intimidate or emotional one, as is the case with personal friends, but a general and mutual awareness of wishing others well for their own sake and taking action to ensure this.[23] Since citizens lack the intimidate ties of personal friendship, political friendship requires an equality among members for it to endure. Whereas personal friendship permits temporary inequality to exist because intimidate ties can compensate for it, political friendship cannot allow these violations, or perception of these violations; otherwise, political friendship will be destroyed.[24]

It is therefore critical for the legislator to cultivate trust and goodwill among citizens, a goal that is even more important than justice itself: “when people are friends, they have no need for justice, while when they are just, they need friendship, too, and the truest form of justice is thought to be of a friendly quality.”[25] This is the reason why political friendship is more important than political justice: political friendship binds the community together in a way that justice cannot. In an atmosphere of distrust and ill will, citizens may perceive themselves as treated unjustly, even when in actuality they are not. This misperception typically occurs when citizens think proportional justice should be implemented (citizens receive what they are due) instead of numerical justice (all citizens are treated equally) or vice versa.[26] In fact, the misapplication of these forms of justice, and the perception of this misapplication, is one of the greatest threat to a regime’s stability and existence.[27]

It is political friendship rather than political justice that prevents these misperceptions from percolating into unrest, anger, and violence. This type of like-mindedness that binds citizens together differs from other relationships (e.g., kinship, class, ideology) because it requires a specific political commitment to the common good.[28] For the polis to be genuinely just, political friendship is required: a just society without trust and good will among its citizens can never truly be just. The legislator’s task therefore is to cultivate political friendship among citizens–equality, good will, and trust–in order for them to discuss and decide the common good.

For liberals, Aristotle’s insight that political friendship-a feeling of equality, good will, and trust among citizens-is required for political justice to exist is to acknowledge that citizenship is more than a legal category defined against the state: it is a type of relationship that is cultivated and formed among citizens themselves. Politics is more than definitions and procedures. Liberals consequently should learn to tolerate certain inequalities (e.g., positive discrimination for minority groups) if it advances political friendship, because political justice cannot exist without political friendship first.

For multiculturalists, Aristotle’s conception of political justice provides a path for citizens of different identities and experiences to partake, as equal and free citizens, about the common good for the community. Although they may differ about its content and how to achieve the common good, multiculturalists must be able to transcend their parochial interests for the good of community. If multiculturalists were to demand too much from the political community, not only would it be unjust but it also would destroy political friendship.

The Socratic Citizen

To cultivate political friendship, the legislator must avoid the fallacy of thinking that “the same person a fit statesman, and a king, and a household head, and a slave-master.”[29] The legislator must know the difference between the household and the polis. This distinction is important because the cultivation of citizens requires both political and civil authorities for the civic education of its citizens. The legislator must recognize that citizens are educated in multiple ways, with political authority for the citizen proper and domestic authority for the family.[30] Legislators who are unable to differentiate among these types of authority will cultivate a political community that is contrary to political friendship.

One such legislator is Socrates, who proposes to share familial members and property in common for the sake of political unity.[31] By reducing the polis to the household, Socrates believes the conflicts that destroy political communities would be eradicated. Although it may appear that the elimination of the family and private property would be most conducive to cultivating trust and good will among citizens–citizens would regard one another as siblings in all things–this proposal actually destroys the political community per se.[32] For Aristotle, the political community evolves out of many households; and only when the household, while still remaining intact, becomes part of the political community does it achieve its proper end (telestheises).[33]

Thus, from Aristotle’s perspective, Socrates’ proposal has several problems. First, it is ineffective in cultivating citizens: the Socratic citizen would be spirited (thumos) but unphilosophical and therefore prone to fighting, particularly among themselves (Politics 1264b6–10). Because citizens are all siblings to one another, they cannot determine what is most important to them, thereby preventing them from acting out of public piety, to be able to transcend what is most important to a person for the sake of philosophical truth: “It would seem to be a better thing, and also part of our duty, to forsake even what is close and dear to us (ta oikeia) in order to preserve truth, especially insofar as we are lovers of wisdom (philosophous ontas); for although both of them are dear, it is pious to honor the truth first.”[34] The result is that both public piety and philosophical truth is not attainable among Socrates’ citizens because they are unable to sacrifice what is closest and dearest to them, as everyone and everything belongs to one another.

Second, Socrates’ proposal undermines political friendship itself. Saying and choosing the same thing is not necessarily indicative of political friendship, for citizens may speak and act out due to external pressure rather than personal conviction.[35] Since everyone and everything is shared, the Socratic citizens are not able to determine their personal convictions. Political friendships exists only when people disagree about what constitutes the common good while still trusting and having good will for one another. Unlike the Socratic citizens, when they all claim the same thing unanimously, Aristotelian citizens disagree about such things as to who should rule while retaining good will to one another, which makes political friendship possible.[36] Aristotelian citizens must take into account simultaneously their personal interests, other citizens’ interests, and the common good in the selection of a ruler. By saying different but concordant things, these citizens are able to partake in political friendship.

Third, the Socratic citizen is incapacitated to practice the virtues of generosity and moderation. The abolishment of private property not only makes the Socratic citizens unable to determine their personal interests but also leads them to immoderation for when property is held in common, it is neglected, abused, or over consumed.[37] Property should be held in common only by the virtue of generosity, which first requires citizens to possess their own.[38] By retaining private property, Aristotelian citizens are able to practice generosity because they can voluntarily give it to the political community. Aristotle even notes that one of the greatest pleasures for virtuous citizens comes from helping friends, guests, and comrades from one’s own property.[39] However, to be afforded this pleasure requires citizens to be moderate and avoid the extremes of stinginess and wastefulness,[40] as it is unnatural to love one’s property as oneself.[41]

Fourth and finally, the Socratic citizens create an environment where children cannot be raised properly because of the conflation of familial (philia) and erotic love (eros). Because nobody knows their natural family, the Socratic citizens permit incest and other unnatural sexual acts to transpire.[42] This sexualized environment is not protective of children where natural parents care provide philia without eros. The retention of natural parents allow them access the interior principles of motivation of their children that the polis lacks, allowing a more robust civic education of children to respect the political community and its laws (i.e., public piety).[43] Parents are better at inculcating virtuous habits into their children not only because of their children’s affections for them but also because parents know the particular context and situations of their children better than the polis could and therefore can respond accordingly. When natural parents educate their children, “greater accuracy will result when care is private and directed to the particular case, for then each is more likely to receive what is suitable.”[44]

Aristotle’s criticisms of Socrates’ proposal therefore appears aimed at the liberal theorist who conceives of citizenship as the same for everyone. If all citizens are categorized in the same abstract legal category-in essence, everyone and everything belongs to everyone-then they will not know what is most important to them and therefore be unable to sacrifice it in order to achieve public piety, philosophical truth, political friendship, and virtues like generosity and moderation. Likewise, multiculturalists must recognize that the recognition of group rights is merely the beginning, not the conclusion, of their political education. Once their culture is protected, it must be transcended in certain cases for the common concerns of the community or philosophical truth.

Socrates’ proposal of reducing the polis to the household reveals that civic education requires both the state and the household to make good citizens. An education that is attentive to individual needs while, at the same time, being directed by someone “who possesses legislative art”[45] requires both the household (minority cultural groups) and the polis (the state). The state has a role in education but it must work with minority cultural groups rather than seek to supplant them. Likewise, it is important that minority cultural groups be awaken from their complacency in educating their children. This complementary relationship between the state and the minority cultural groups avoids the extreme situations that Aristotle cites of Sparta and the Cyclopes. The former only provides a state education and the latter furnishes only a domestic one, with the results of “bestial and coarse” citizens for Sparta and living however as one pleases for the Cyclopes.[46]

For Aristotle, the preservation of the household is required in order for the political community to flourish. With the elimination of families and private property, the Socratic citizens cannot be publicly pious, philosophical, or partake in political friendship, moderation, and generosity. The attempt to erase this civic diversity among households is detrimental to the political community. Contemporary efforts to reaffirm the ideal of a common citizenship that denies civic diversity (e.g., the neo-assimilation option) will confront the same set of problems as one finds in Socrates’ proposal, not to mention aggravating minority groups’ alienation and emboldening their political radicalization.[47] For example, the French policy of assimilation, laïcité, which denies civic diversity, is seen by some as one of the causes of Islamic radicalization among French Muslims.[48] The denial of their identity and experiences in the political sphere aggravates rather than homogenizes some members of these minority groups. But if civic diversity is to be retained, how it can help motivate citizens to move from their private considerations to a form of public reasonableness?

Political Justice

The differentiation between the political community and the household makes possible a civic education in political justice.[49] For Aristotle, there is no more important task for the legislator than civic education, as it guarantees the maintenance of a political community’s good laws.[50] The legislator should “attend to such matters as our nurture and pursuits . . . and were to do correctly.”[51] However, the problem is that political authority is incapable of making the particular distinctions required for good civic education. Because of the political community’s incapacity to address the particular needs and demands of every child, the household must exist to accomplish this task.

Aristotle consequently makes a distinction between political justice-which requires the conditions of freedom, equality, sociability (koinoia), self-sufficiency, and lawfulness-with the various forms of natural justice: the household (between husband and wife), parental (between parents and children), and despotic (between master and slave).[52] The conditions of political justice, such as freedom and equality, are not first learned in the political community but in the household where natural justice transpires.[53] For example, even though they are not citizens, children and wives are free people in the household; and husband and wives practice a form of proportionate equality among themselves.[54] These types of relationships enable the household inhabitants to learn about freedom and equality in natural justice, which, in turn, prepares them for political justice.

The close and intimate relationship between political justice and natural justice is evident when one compares the type of political communities with the type of households.[55] For just political communities, paternal rule resembles monarchy as asymmetrical governance; husband and wife resembles aristocracy as a type of proportionate equality; and siblings resemble timocracy with the principle of ruling and being ruled. For unjust political communities, master and slave resembles tyranny; unequal marital partners is similar to oligarchy; and a headless household is a form of democracy. Aristotle’s point, and something which liberal theorists could learn from, is that the household is the training ground for the polis’ citizens. A virtuous household contributes to virtuous citizens; a deviant household contributes to deviant ones.

It is important to remember that political justice does not exist in the household because “there is no injustice in an unqualified sense towards one’s own possessions . . . and a child, until it reaches a certain age and is separated, is, as it were, a part of one’s self.”[56] But children eventually will become citizens in the political community and therefore must learn how to rule and be ruled as free people: they need this type of education in the household to prepare them.[57] This exchange of natural justice–ruling and being ruled–not only takes place among siblings but also between children and their parents, as parents provide for their children existence and education, and later when children are taken care of by their parents in old age.[58] In each case, the parent and the children govern in the best interest of the other.[59]

Although the household has the advantage of accessing the interior principles of motivation in its members, such as in appeals of love and respect, it ultimately serves only as a stepping stone for citizenship into the political community, a point of which multiculturalists should be cognizant. Citizens must learn to overcome their own personal interests and take into consideration other citizens’ and the political community’s (i.e., public reasonableness). Those who are defective of this virtue are confused about the nature of their interests, which can negatively overspill into the political community and cause social disorder.[60] For Aristotle, these individuals need to understand that their parochial interest are related, and sometimes must be sacrificed, for the political community’s.[61]

The household with its justice is intimately bound to the political community with its political justice. The connection between these two spheres appear to be lost to both liberals and multiculturalists: liberals focus solely on the political community, while multiculturalists are preoccupied with only their own. What Aristotle shows is that both are required for political justice to transpire, as the household is the training ground for the political community. Liberals need to understand that citizenship is not only a political or legal matter and multiculturalists must recognize that the preservation of their communities is not just an end in itself.

Private Friendship

One of the paradoxes of virtuous relationship is that it forces people to recognize their own dependency on the various communities to which they belong.[62] The acknowledgement of this dependency enables them to fulfill their duties and responsibilities to both the household and the political community. If someone is delinquent in these activities, then that person damages his or her own chance for happiness. This is why friendship is so critical in Aristotle’s account of ethics and politics: virtuous friendship activates a type of awareness (noein) or perception (aisthanesthai) in the person about what should be pursued for happiness.[63] Without the aid of virtuous friends, one would not be able to determine what is truly good for oneself.[64]

Unlike material possessions, friendship does not create a scarcity of resources but a surplus of virtue that satisfies both ethical and political demands. It makes people reasonable and moderate in their claims, thereby precluding social disorder in the political community.[65] Friendship also is important because it makes people recognize what they lack.[66] People are attractive to that in which they are defective, hoping their friends will compensate for their shortcomings. Thus, friendship requires a diversity of citizens’ characters in order to exist.[67] It is one’s dependence upon others who are different from oneself that enables friendship to be possible.

One of the most important types of friendships is private friendship which correspond to political friendship. As there are more private friendships, there is more political friendship; as there is more political friendship, there is more political justice in the community; and as the community becomes more just, political friendship increases.[68] With more political justice and friendship in the community, it becomes more difficult for citizens to be unreasonable and immoderate. However, this directional relationship is one-way for Aristotle: private friendship can only lead to political friendship; political friendship cannot be transformed into private.[69]

By remaining in the household, private friendship paradoxically awakens in people their political responsibilities as citizens. By having virtuous friends, people are able to recognize what they lack, moving them from a self-definition of possessions to a self-understanding based on virtuous relationships. Reasonable and moderate citizens will admit that their personal interests are dependent upon the common good and therefore will act accordingly. The political community becomes the model of civic education where citizens acknowledge that their personal interests are tied to the community’s. Thus, the prerequisites of political justice are to be found in the civic education of the household where natural justice prepares its members to become political citizens.

If Aristotle is correct about private friendship, then multiculturalists should see that friendship is not to be cultivated among their own cultural groups but among different cultural groups to awaken the political responsibility for all citizens. Although part of the motivation may be their civic obligation or an aspiration of philosophical truth, multiculturalists also will be motivated to have a body politic that is more reasonable, moderate, and just, thereby more likely to protect rather than target minority groups. Thus, coalition-building serves both the self-interest of minority groups and Aristotle’s hope for a civic education of political justice.

Civic Education

If the household plays a critical role in the civic education of citizens, so does the political community in supervising its aims. For Aristotle, civic education, especially of children, is the preeminent concern of the legislator because they determine the continuity and stability of the regime.[70] But what type of civic education should children and citizens receive? Paralleling the tension between the good citizen and the good person, Aristotle argues that civic education should correspond both to a political community’s peculiar ends and to virtue itself.[71] For instance, democratic regimes should provide a democratic education to make good democratic citizens. But what happens when a teaching about virtue comes into conflict with an instruction about democratic values? How does one resolve this situation?

This tension becomes even more complicated when Aristotle also claims that civic education should be “one and the same for all,” since the political community as a whole should have a single end: this is why civic education should be supervised by the state.[72] But Aristotle’s argument for the state supervision of civic education is not the same as Socrates’ proposal where the distinction between the household and the political community is abolished. Aristotle instead maintains that the household cannot dictate the ends of civic education, for this would be an invitation to anarchy as one finds among the Cyclopes where every household determines for itself the education of its children. The objective of civic education and its final supervision should be determined by the political community, but, as argued above, the political community needs the household to deliver part of that education. Aristotle’s claim of civic education being for “one and the same for all” is not a call to replace the household with the political community but rather to work with household to cultivate good citizens and people.

With this distinction between the political community and household intact, Aristotle’s proposal that civic education should aim for both virtue and the peculiar ends of a regime can be better understood. When discussing how the political community should educate children for its own peculiar ends, Aristotle concludes that “the best character (ethos) is always a cause of a better political community (politeias).”[73] The suggestion here is that political communities that are not the best are capable of evolving into something better if the character of its citizens change (or corresponding devolves into something worst if the character of its citizens becomes worse). But from where does this source of best character come? It cannot come from the resources of the political community, as its aim is to educate children for its own peculiar ends (i.e., support the regime). The answer therefore must be from the household (civil society).[74]

Civil society, especially if civic diversity exists, can offer a civic education that improves the character of its citizens, especially its children, who over time will determine the nature and aims of the political community. The example of the American Civil Rights Movement illuminates Aristotle’s point. At one time, the United States codified racial segregation, indoctrinating its citizens to support this belief. However, civil rights leaders looked outside the civic education of their political community–civil society–to cultivate a more just character among its citizenry by repealing these laws.[75] When civil right leaders were able to persuade political leaders and its citizens that all people in the United States should be afforded equal treatment and rights, the United States became a better political community.

Furthermore, the conception of citizenship itself had changed in the United States as a result of the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement. The liberal conception of citizenship as a legal category was extended to a minority cultural group that was previously denied its rights and privileges, while the multiculturalist understanding of citizenship was realized with certain group privileges afforded to African-Americans with respect to voting, employment, and college admissions (e.g., positive discrimination). Conceding that this transformation in the political community and in citizenship was lengthy and still incomplete, it is an example of how a political community can incorporate virtue outside of itself in order to become a better state. Whereas both liberals and multiculturalists leave a space for civil society but not able to connect it to the political community in any meaningful way, Aristotle shows them how such a connection can be established by having the state’s civic education simultaneously aim for the political community’s peculiar ends (the state’s) and virtue itself (civil society).

Those political communities that are not willing to recognize that virtue may reside in civil society commit the error of Sparta which produce citizens that are “bestial and coarse.”[76] This is due to Sparta’s neglect of civil society as a resource to change its regime.[77] The opposite of Spartan civic education is the Cyclopean one where each household is allow to determine how to educate its own children, which is an invitation to anarchy.[78] In this sense, Aristotle’s claim that both the political community and the household should partake in the civic education of its citizens is the golden mean between the extremes of political indoctrination (Sparta) and political indifference (the Cyclopes). By aiming for both virtue and the peculiar ends of the political community, Aristotle avoids the twin dangers of stagnation and anarchy in his account.


The common good of the political community therefore is both its peculiar ends and virtue itself. Properly educated citizens have to balance their personal interests, the political community’s interests, and virtue itself in the determination of the common good. But the weighing of these diverse goods is only possible if civic diversity is preserved in the political community. Without this diversity, the political community can never be just.

Thus, Aristotle’s civic education of public piety, private friendship, and other virtues like generosity enables citizens to move past their personal considerations to political friendship, public reasonableness, and possibly even philosophical truth. Both civil society and the state must complement each other in the civic education of its citizens, if the political community is to be self-sufficient and live well. Civil society, particularly the family, has access to the principles of interior motivation that the state lacks and can practice natural justice as a type of preparation for political justice, while the state supervises the aim of education of its citizens for its own peculiar ends and virtue. This civic education can only transpire as long as the distinction between civil society and the state is retained.

By preserving civic diversity, Aristotle’s civic education addresses the concerns of both multiculturalists and liberals: it provides motivation for citizens to engage in public reasonableness while simultaneously allow the state to be open to all citizens’ identities and experiences. As political friends, citizens can discuss, decide, and act upon what they think constitutes the common good for their political community, a substantive good beyond procedural rights. Because of their training in natural justice in civil society, citizens will be prepared to become political friends with one another, to listen to others and formulate their positions in a way that is respectful of different identities, interests, and experiences of their fellow citizens and acknowledge that these differences may affect their political views.

In spite of the appeal of Aristotle’s ideas of civic diversity and political friendship, it is important to underscore that Aristotle is not a liberal democrat and therefore his theory of politics does not translate perfectly for liberal democracies and its conception of citizenship. Besides the exclusion of women, slaves, and aliens, Aristotelian citizenship is not rights-based, to which both multiculturalists and liberal subscribe; and Aristotelian politics is oriented towards a specific conception of virtue that contemporary thinkers may reject or seek to replace. Finally, the framework of Aristotle’s politics–his naturalism of human beings, civil society, and the state (Politics 1253a1–2)–poses a paradigmatic challenge to contemporary thinkers who wish to translate his ideas into their own, as they operate within theories of the social contract, deontology, or agonistic pluralism.

Notwithstanding these fundamental, and perhaps unbridgeable, differences between classical and modern political thought, Aristotle’s ideas do suggest a way to move forward in the debate between multiculturalists and liberals, particularly in regards to civic education. The multiculturalist’s criticism that liberals’ theories of consensus and deliberative democracy conceal rather than enable all citizens, with their diverse experiences, to participate in politics is addressed by the importance that Aristotle places on civic diversity and the critical role it plays for political justice and friendship. When citizens become political friends, they are able to discuss and decide a common good that takes into account everyone.

Likewise, Aristotle’s account of political friendship and justice provides a shared concern and bond for citizens that multiculturalists, as accused by liberals, are lacking. Although civic diversity exists, citizens must be willing to recognize how their personal interests are related, and sometimes must be sacrificed, for the state’s and virtue itself. Citizens are enabled and motivated to transcend their parochial interests for communal ones because of their training in natural justice: private friendship, public piety, moderation, and generosity. The multiculturalism that Aristotle would advocate is not a Cyclopean one, where every household can teach as it pleases, but directs its members to acknowledge both the diverse and shared interests that exist within the political community.

Aristotle also recommends specific policies to preserve this civic diversity in the political community. One suggestion is to distribute citizens’ property throughout the polis so they are forced to take into account the interests of entire the political community. Another, and more important, one is to have the state supervise civic education but allow civil society, particularly the family, to play a role in its delivery. For some liberal democracies, like the United States, this Aristotelian proposal has been modified by having public localities and private institutions rather than federal or state-wide public schools educate children. But these different institutions still must adhere to the common standards as determined by the federal or state government, with most states having an explicit mission to prepare students for citizenships.[79] The ideas of Aristotelian civic education therefore can be incorporated into a liberal democracy, like the United States, where the state sets the shared aims of its civic education but allow a diversity of ways for it to be achieved.

The underlying assumption for Aristotle is that civil society remains a vibrant entity in the political community. But the recent decline of social capital in the United States and an increasingly diverse immigrant population raises question about the health of its civil society and the common bonds of its citizenship.[80] Given the importance of civil society, the state should seeks ways to support civil society while not seeking to supplant it, homogenize it, or make it Cyclopean (i.e., where anything goes). Without a robust civil society, citizens will not be prepared to partake in political friendship and public reasonableness.

Kymlicka and Norman provide one example of how this might be accomplished. By recommending that the state should recognize multiculturalists’ demands of multicultural rights, Kymlicka and Norman advocate for a civic diversity in the liberal state.[81] The state should support and bolster these groups as long as they are practicing natural justice as a preparation for political friendship and public reasonableness. If a group were to act contrary to natural justice (e.g., a radical religious group that taught violence), then the state would not only withdraw any support from this group but also would seek to remove it or at least restrict it as much as it would be constitutionally permissible.

It is the cultivation of the character rather than the protection of rights or the promotion of identities that is at the heart of Aristotle’s civic education program. The paradox of Aristotle’s civic education is that civic diversity is required in order for political friendship and public reasonableness to surface. Without civic diversity, there can be no political community. This paradox hopefully can move forward the debate about citizenship between multiculturalists and liberals from a zero-sum game to one where both the state and civil society can arrive at new and creative solutions.



[1]. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 1981); Bruce W. Ballard, Understanding MacIntyre (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000); Mark C. Murphy, ed. Alasdair MacIntyre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Lawrence S. Cunningham, Intractable Disputes About the Natural Law Alasdair MacIntyre and Critics (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009).

[2]. For the rise of Aristotelianism, refer to Gregory Trianosky, “What is Virtue Ethics About?” American Philosophical Quarterly 27 (1990): 335–44; Peter Simpson, “Contemporary Virtue Ethics and Aristotle,” Review of Metaphysics 45 (1992): 503–24; John C. Wallach, “Contemporary Aristotelianism,” Political Theory 20 (1992): 613–41.

[3]. MacIntyre, After Virtue; Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Stephen G. Salkever, Finding the Mean: Theory and Practice in Aristotelian Political Philosophy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990); William Galston, Liberal Purposes: Goods, Virtues, and Diversity in the Liberal State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Michael Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

[4]. William Connolly, Identity/Difference: Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991); Bonnie Honig, Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993); Chantal Mouffee, The Democratic Paradox (London: Verso, 2000); Iris Marion Young, Inclusion and Democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995) and “The Rise and Fall of Multiculturalism? New Debates on Inclusion and Accommodation in Diverse Societies.” International Social Science Journal 61 (2010): 97–112.

[5]. Iris Marion Young, “Polity and Group Difference: A Critique of Universal Citizenship,” Ethics 99 (1989): 250–74.

[6]. Jean Lecca, “Questions on Citizenship” in Dimensions of Radical Democracy: Pluralism, Citizenship, and Community, ed. Chantal Mouffe (London: Verso, 1992), 17–32.

[7]. Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship, 87–88, 197.

[8]. Amy Gutmann, Identity in America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).

[9]. The question of what constitutes the contents of justice is problematic for both liberals and multiculturalists. Liberals define justice or the common good as a set of procedural rights that lacks any substance, while multiculturalists provide definitions that may appear to favor some groups over others, thereby alienating some people from the political community. As I will argue in this chapter, Aristotle provides a definition of justice that is substantive and includes all citizens.

[10]. For political elites, refer to “Merkel says German multicultural society has failed.” BBC News, October 17, 2010., accessed August 5, 2015; “State multiculturalism has failed, says Cameron.” BBC News, February 5, 2011., accessed August 5, 2015; “Nicolas Sarkozy declares multiculturalism has failed.” The Telegraph. February 11, 2015., accessed August 5, 2015. For academics and commentators, refer to Lloyd Wong, Joe Garcea, and Anaa Kirova, “An Analysis of the ‘Anti and Post-Multiculturalism’ Discourses: The Fragmentation Position” (Edmonton: Prairie Centre for Excellence in Research on Immigration and Integration, 2005); Bryan S. Turner, “Citizenship and the crisis of multiculturalism,” Citizenship Studies 10.5 (2006): 607–18; Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship and “The Rise and Fall of Multiculturalism?”; Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley, The Crisis of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age (London: Zed Books, 2011); Olaf Kaltmeier, Josef Raab, and Sebastian Thies, “Multiculturalism and Beyond: The New Dynamics of Identity Politics in the Americas,” Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 7.2 (2012): 103–14.

[11]. Ronald Beiner, “Introduction: Why Citizenship Constitute a Theoretical Problem in the Last Decade of the Twentieth Century” in Theorizing Citizenship, ed. Ronald Beiner (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995), 1–28.

[12]. Alan Carens, Citizens Plus: Aboriginal People and the Canadian State (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2000), 193.

[13]. For more about the debate and criticism about Rawls’ liberalism, refer to Charles Taylor, Philosophical Arguments (Cambridge University Press, 1995), 181–203. Besides Rawls, refer to Nozick and Dworkin for thinkers who represent the liberal position: Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974); Ronald Dworkin, “Liberal Community,” California Law Review 77 (1989): 479–504. For representative thinkers of communitarians, refer to MacIntyre, After Virtue; Taylor, Sources of the Self; Galston, Liberal Purposes; Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. It is worth pointing out that communitarians have their own set of problems, such as an ambiguous account of community, the restriction of rights in the name of communal goods, and the inability to distinguish between the state and society. An example of criticism of communitarianism can be found in Daniel Bell, Communitarianism and its Critics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993) and Elizabeth Frazer, The Problem of Communitarian Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Habermas, Gutmann and Thompson, and Cohen also provide accounts of moral pluralism that are susceptible to public reason or reasoned discourse, although they differ among one another and Rawls as to the basis of public reason. Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse of Law and Democracy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996); Amy Gutmann and Denis Thompson, Democracy and Disagreement (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996); Joshua Cohen, “Procedure and Substance in Deliberative Democracy” in Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics, ed. James Bohman and William Regh (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997).

[14]. Chantal Mouffe, “Democracy, Power, and ‘The Political’” in Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries for the Political, ed. Seyla Benhabib (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 245–56.

[15]. Complementing this criticism are communitarians who characterize Rawls’ liberalism as only procedural in nature where citizens are treated equally with no expectation of collective goals. For communitarians, liberalism needs to be common, substantive goods, which may include the recognition of minority groups, for it to be meaningful to its citizens. Refer to the fourteen note for more.

[16]. For more about public reasonableness and its importance to citizenship, refer to Stephen Macedo, Liberal Virtues: Citizenship, Virtues, and Community in Liberal Constitutionalism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990); Galston, Liberal Purposes; Eamonn Callan, Creating Citizens (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).

[17]. Other scholars who adopt this approach are Martha Nussbaum, “Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach” in Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Volume XIII: Ethical Theory, Character and Virtue, ed. Peter A. French, Theodore E. Uehling, and Howard K. Wettstein (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988) and “Human Functioning and Social Justice: In Defense of Aristotelian Essentialism,” Political Theory 20 (1992): 202–46; Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice; Peter Berkowitz, Virtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999); Thomas Smith, “Aristotle on the Conditions for the Limits of the Common Good,” The American Political Science Review 93 (1999): 625–36; Macedo. Liberal Virtues and Diversity and Distrust: Civic Education in a Multicultural Democracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000); Galston, Liberal Purposes and Liberal Pluralism: The Implication of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). For different uses of Aristotle in examining liberal theory, refer to MacIntyre. After Virtue; Susan D. Collins, Aristotle and the Recovery of Citizenship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). For a review of the literature on Aristotle’s theory of citizenship, refer to Carrie-Ann Biondi Khan, “Aristotle, Citizenship, and the Common Advantage,” Polis 22.1 (2005): 1–23.

[18]. This distinction between the public, or political, and the private is critical not only to Aristotle’s theory of politics but also to Hannah Arendt’s interpretation of Aristotle and her own theory of politics. Leah Bradshaw, “Regime, Culture and Citizenship” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Conference. San Francisco, CA, September 3, 2015).

[19]. Politics 1255b15. It is important to underscore here again that Aristotle is not a liberal democrat and, as a result, excludes women, slaves, aliens, and the poor from citizenship. Some scholars suggest that Aristotle’s theory of politics theoretically could include these classes of people as citizens, although I remain skeptical of such conclusions. Leah Bradshaw, “Political Rule, Prudence and the ‘Woman Question’ in Aristotle,” Canadian Journal of Political Science. XXIU.3 (1991): 557–693 and Adriel M. Trott, Aristotle on the Nature of Community (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). For my reservations about such arguments, refer to Lee Trepanier, “Review of Adriel M. Trott, Aristotle on the Nature of Community.” Bryn Mawr Classical Review, November 28, 2014.–11–28.html, accessed August 8, 2015.

All citations are as follows: Politics for Aristotle, Politics (Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library and Harvard University Press, 1932); NE for Nicomachean Ethics (Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library and Harvard University Press, 1936); EE for Eudemian Ethics (Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library and Harvard University Press, 1935); Republic for Plato, Republic (Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library and Harvard University Press, 1930). Translations are mine own.

[20]. Politics 1276b55

[21]. Politics 1280b1, 20–30

[22]. NE 1167a26–28; also NE 1167b2–3, 1155a22–28; Politics 1280b2–4

[23]. This idea translates sociologically today in the norms of how citizens treat one another, respect society, and knowledge of their constitution and what is expected of them as citizens.

[24]. John Cooper, “Political Animals and Civic Friendship,” The Review of Metaphysics 30.4 (1977): 237.

[25]. NE 1155a22–28

[26]. Politics 1301b30–39

[27]. Politics 1302a6–10

[28]. For more about political friendship, refer to Cooper, “Aristotle on the Forms of Friendship,” 619–48 and “Political Animals and Civic Friendship” in Aristotle’s Politik, ed. Gunther Patzig (Friedrichshafen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1990) 220–41; Judith Swanson, The Public and the Private in Aristotle’s Political Philosophy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992); Susan Bickford, “Beyond Friendship: Aristotle on Conflict, Deliberation, and Attention,” Journal of Politics 58.2 (1996): 398–421; Dale Jacuette, “Aristotle on the Value of Friendship as a Motivation for Morality,” The Journal of the Value of Inquiry 35.3 (2001): 371–89; John von Heyking, “‘Sunaistheic’ Friendship and the Foundations of Political Anthropology,” International Political Anthropology 1.2 (2008): 179–92; John von Heyking, John and Richard Avramenko, Friendship and Politics (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008); Bradley Bryan, “Approaching Others: Aristotle’s on Friendship’s Possibility,” Political Theory 37.6 (2009): 754–79; Alexander Nehamas, “Aristotelian Philia, Modern Friendship?” in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, ed. Brad Inwood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 213–47.

[29]. Politics 1252a7–9; 1260b22–1261a22; 1252a12–13.

[30]. Politics 1259a37–1259b17; 1260a12–14.

[31]. Republic 464a4–c4.

[32]. Politics 1261a21–22.

[33]. Politics 1252b9–39, 1253a18.

[34]. NE 1096a14–17. Aristotle lists piety as a virtue under the category of justice. Sarah Broadie, “Aristotelian Piety,” Phronesis 48.1 (2003): 54–70.

[35]. NE 1261b16–32.

[36]. NE 1167a30–34.

[37]. Politics 1262b37–1263a3. For more about property in Aristotle’s writings, refer to William Mathie, “Property in the Political Science of Aristotle” in Theories of Property: Aristotle to the Present, ed. Anthony Parel and Thomas Flanagan (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1979), 13–34; Darrell Dobbs, “Aristotle’s Anti-Communism,” American Journal of Political Science 29 (1985): 29–46; Terrence H. Irwin, “Aristotle’s Defense of Private Property” in A Companion to Aristotle’s Politics, ed. David Keyt and Fred D. Miller (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1991), 200–25; R.A. Mayhew, “Aristotle on Property,” Review of Metaphysics 46 (1993): 803–31 and Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato’s Republic (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997); Jill Frank, “Integrating Public Good and Private Right: The Virtue of Property” in Aristotle and Modern Politics: The Persistence of Political Philosophy, ed. Aristede Tessitore (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), 258–77 and Democracy of Distinction: Aristotle and the Work of Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Fred D. Miller, “Aristotle on Property Rights” in Aristotle’s Politics: Critical Essays, ed. Richard Kraut and Steven Skultety (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), 121–44; Waller R. Newell, “Oligarchy and Oiknomia: Aristotle’s Ambivalent Assessment of Private Property” in On Oligarchy: Ancients Lessons for Global Politics, ed. David Edward Tabachnick and Toivo Koivukosi (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), 1–23.

[38]. Aristotle also rejects property be held entirely in private, as there could be no sharing of it and consequently no opportunity to be generous. Aristotle labels such dispositions as stingy or money-loving (NE 1121b12–16).

[39]. Politics 1263b5–6.

[40]. NE 1120b8–27.

[41]. NE 1155a22–28. This explains why Aristotle divides citizens’ property into two parts, with one portion safely in the city and the other perilously near the frontier (Politics 1330a14–20). Because citizens’ interests are at both places, they consequently will care for the political community as a whole. The result is that determinations about the common good are based on common personal interests rather than factional ones. By distributing citizens’ property throughout the political community, Aristotle provides the opportunity for citizens to overcome their personal interest for the common good of the community (Politics 1253a3–4, 1263a41–b5).

[42]. Politics 1262a25–27.

[43]. NE 1180a18–24, 1180b3–7. For more about the role of emotions in the Aristotle’s writings, particularly in the education of citizens and children, refer to Martha Nussbaum, “Aristotle on Emotions and Rational Persuasion” in Essays on Aristotle’s Rhetoric, ed. Amélie Rorty (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 303–23 and The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Barbara Koziak, Retrieving Political Emotions (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000); Arash. Abizadeh, “The Passions of the Wise: Phronesis, Rhetoric and Aristotle’s Passionate Practical Deliberation,” Review of Metaphysics 56 (2002): 267–96.

[44]. NE 1180b11–13.

[45]. NE 1180b13–25.

[46]. Politics 1337a22–32, 1138b11–36, 12b22–23, 1338b16–17; NE 1180a24–29. For more about Aristotle’s criticism of Sparta, refer to, Roger De Laix, “Aristotle’s Conception of the Spartan Constitution,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 12 (1974):21–30; Ephraim David, “Aristotle and Sparta,” Ancient Society 13/14 (1982): 67–103; Eckart Schütrumpf, “Aristotle on Sparta” in The Shadow of Sparta, ed. Anton Powell and Stephen Hodkinson (New York: Routledge, 1994). For a contrary account of Aristotle’s understanding of the Cyclopes, refer to Thomas K. Lindsay, “Liberty, Equality, Power: Aristotle’s Critique of the Democratic ‘Presupposition,’” American Journal of Political Science 36 (1992): 743–61.

[47]. For more about neo-assimilation policies, refer to Samuel Huntington, Who are We?: The Challenge of American National Identity (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005); Mary C. Water and Tomás R. Jiménez “Assessing Immigrant Assimilation: New Empirical and Theoretical Challenges,” Annual Review of Sociology 31 (2005):105–25; Adrian Favell, Philosophies of Integration. Immigration and the Idea of Citizenship in France and Britain (London: Macmillan Press, 2001); R. Van Oers, E. Ersboll, and D. Kostakopoulos, ed., A Redefinition of Belonging? Language and Integration Tests in Europe (The Hague: Brill Publishers/Martinus Mijoff, 2010).

[48]. Jonathan Laurence and Justince Vaisse. Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France (Washington D.C.: Brooking Institute Press, 2006). For a different perspective, refer to Oliver Roy, Secularism Confront Islam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).

[49]. For more about Aristotelian political justice, refer to Fred D. Miller, Nature, Justice and Rights in Aristotle’s Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995); Jill. Frank, “Democracy and Distribution: Aristotle on Just Desert,” Political Theory 26.6 (1989):784–802; Thornton C. Lockwood, Jr., “Justice in Aristotle’s Household and the City,” Polis 20:1–2 (2006): 1–21.

[50]. NE 1180a18–21.

[51]. NE 1180a25–30.

[52]. NE 1134a260–30; Politics 1134b8–18.

[53]. NE 1162a16–18. Miller makes this same point. Miller, Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle’s Politics.

[54]. Politics 1259a39–b1, 1260b18–20; NE 1160b25–61a25; EE 1241b33–41.

[55]. Lockwood, “Justice in Aristotle’s Household and the City.”

[56]. NE 1134b9–12.

[57]. Politics 1260b20–21; 1259a40, 1332b36–33a1.

[58]. NE 1161a6–7, 26–31; 1162a13–14. Stephen C. Todd, The Shape of Athenian Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994)

[59]. NE 1160b28–32; Politics 1160b25–26; 1252b7–8.

[60]. EE 1248b27; NE 1169a21–2.

[61]. For the debate about the relationship between self-interest and civic interest for Aristotle, refer to Shelley Burtt, “The Good Citizen Psyche: On the Psychology of Civic Virtue,” Polity 23 (1990): 23–38; “The Politics of Virtue Today: A Critique and a Proposal,” The American Political Science Review 87 (1993): 360–68; “Civic Virtue and Self-Interest,” The American Political Science Review 89 (1995): 147–51.

[62]. Swanson, The Public and the Private in Aristotle’s Political Philosophy; Stephen G. Salkever, “Taking Friendship Seriously: Aristotle on the Place(s) of Philia in Human Life” in Friendship and Politics: Essays in Political Thought, ed. John von Heyking and Richard Avramenko (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008), 53–83.

[63]. NE 1170b1–5, 1170a18. Jacuette, “Aristotle on the Value of Friendship as a Motivation for Morality”; John von Heyking. Friendship and Politics.

[64]. NE 1169b10.

[65]. NE 1137b34–1138a2.

[66]. Bickford, “Beyond Friendship.”

[67]. NE 1155b4–6.

[68]. NE 1167b2–5.

[69]. Bernard Yack, The Problems of a Political Animal (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 110–14.

[70]. Politics 1337a10–18. For more about the contents of Aristotle’s education for the best regime, refer to Carnes Lord, Education and Culture in the Political Thought of Aristotle (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982) and “Aristotle and the Idea of Liberal Education” in Dēmokratia: A Conversion on Democracies, Ancient and Modern, ed. Josiah Ober and Charles W. Hedrick (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 271–88; Andrea Wilson Nightingale, “Aristotle on the ‘Liberal’ and ‘Illiberal’ Arts,” Proceedings on the Boston Area Colloquium of Ancient Philosophy 12.1 (1996): 29–58 and 2001. “Liberal Education in Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics” in Education in Greek and Roman Antiquity, ed. Yun Lee Too (Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2001); Randall R. Curren, Aristotle on the Necessity of Public Education (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000); Josiah Ober, “The Debate Over Civic Education in Classical Athens” in Education in Greek and Roman Antiquity, ed. Yun Lee Too (Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2001); Elizabeth C. Shaw, “Philosophers for the City: Aristotle and the Telos of Education,” Modern Age 47.1 (2005): 30–36.

For how Aristotle’s pedagogy theory can be adopted today, refer to Lee Trepanier, “A Philosophy of Prudence and the Purpose of Higher Education Today” in The Relevance of Higher Education, ed. Timothy Simpson (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013).

[71]. Politics 1276b16–1277b32, 1337a10–21; also 1332a33–34.

[72]. Politics 1337a21–26.

[73]. Politics 1137a16–17.

[74]. Another source for the regime to improve itself can come outside the polis itself, although Aristotle rejects this option (Politics 1327a12-b18, 1330a31–35a18). Also refer to Jill Frank, “Citizens, Slaves, and Foreigners: Aristotle on Human Nature,” The American Political Science Review 98 (2004): 91–104.

[75]. Justin Buckley Dyer, Natural Law and the Antislavery Constitutional Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

[76]. Politics 1337a22–26, 31–32, 1138b11–14, 32–36; NE 1180a24–26.

[77]. Additional problems with Sparta’s civic education according to Aristotle are its neglect of the family to access children’s principles of interior motivation, the failure of its leaders to see whether the education actually produces courage, and the aim of Spartan education as martial as opposed to virtue.

[78]. NE 1180a24–29; Politics 1252b22–23.

[79]. Most scholars who study civic education focus on public schools because studies have demonstrated that they are the most effective institutions in delivering such an education. Lonnie R. Sherrod, Constance Flanagan, and James Youniss, “Dimensions of Citizenship and Opportunities for Youth Development: The What, Why, When, Where, and Who of Citizenship Development,” Applied Developmental Science 6.4 (2002): 264–72; Judith Torney-Purta, “The School’s Role in Developing Civic Education: A Study of Adolescents in Twenty-eight Countries,” Applied Developmental Science. 6.4 (2002): 203–12.

[80]. For the decline of social capital in the United States, refer to Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of the American Community (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001) and Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2015). For the problems of civic integration of immigrants in the United States, refer to Amy Gutmann, Democratic Education (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987); Callan, Creating Citizens; Harry Brighthouse, School Choice and Social Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) and On Education (New York: Routledge, 2006); Will Kymlicka and Wayne Norman, ed. Citizenship in Diverse Societies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Diane Ravitch and Joseph Viteritti, Making Good Citizens: Education and Civil Society (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001); William Galston, “Political Knowledge, Political Engagement, and Civic Education,” Annual Review of Political Science 4 (2001): 217–34; Huntington, Who are We?; Macedo, Diversity and Distrust; Meira Levinson, No Citizen Left Behind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012).

[81]. Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship, 176–87; also refer to Will Kymlicka and Wayne Norman, “Return of the Citizen: A Survey of Recent Work on Citizenship Theory,” Ethics 104.2 (1994): 352–81. The multiculturalist demand, self-government for national minorities, would be rejected by Aristotle because it would fragment the political community.


This was originally published in Citizenship and Multiculturalism in Western Liberal Democracies (Lexington Books, 2017).

Lee Trepanier

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Lee Trepanier is a Professor of Political Science and University Pre-Law Advisor at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. He is author and editor of several books and also is the editor of VoegelinView (2016-present) and editor of Lexington Books series Politics, Literature, and Film (2013-present).