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The 9 rules of democracy proposed by Aristotle

The 9 rules of democracy proposed by Aristotle

May 17, 2024

The incursions of philosophy in the field of politics have more than two thousand years of history.

If Plato became known for relating his theory of ideas to a model of political organization based on an iron hierarchy, his disciple Aristotle did not walk behind him, and proposed a series of democratic principles which, according to him, were necessary so that the voice and interests of the people could shape the important decisions that are made.

This series of proposals are known as the 9 rules of democracy according to Aristotle .

  • Related article: "Differences between Psychology and Philosophy"

The context: the democracy of Athens

Of course, the democratic standards of Ancient Greece do not look too much like those that currently prevail in most Western industrialized countries. Although it is considered that the Athenians were the fathers of democracy, at that time only wealthy families could be represented. The majority of the population, which included slaves, women and minors, as well as people considered foreign, had neither voice nor vote.


Moreover, this model of democracy was by no means generalized throughout Greece. The Spartans, for example, placed much more emphasis on the need to function as a great military camp than on the virtues of political representation.

The sophists

This is the context in which Aristotle wrote his texts on politics; in Athens, some people flocked to places of political representation in which a few dozen people debated. The party succeeded in convincing the rest, and that is why, for certain families with a philosophy, it was reduced to a game of rhetoric in which the way in which something was said rather than the content of that message was more important.


That was why experts in rhetoric, so-called sophists, proliferated in Athens. they instructed whoever paid them in the art of convincing others , something that was considered an investment to gain power of influence.

Both Socrates and Plato showed their total repudiation before this conception of philosophy so based on relativism, since they understood that the truth did not change depending on who paid for the defense of certain interests.

The policy system developed by Aristotle

After these two philosophers, Aristotle did not put so much emphasis on the need to access a universal and absolute truth regardless of the consequences that this had, but he did believe important set a series of rules to make democracy as perfect as possible , avoiding the risks of corruption and rhetorical chicanery.


This series of rules of Aristotle's democracy were written in his book Politics, and they are the following:

1. Choose all the magistracies among all

Aristotle understood that politics affects everyone and that therefore everyone must have the right to influence politics.

2. That everyone sends over the individual and that the individual sends over all

This fit between collective and individual interests was considered essential for democracy to have no blind spots.

3. That public positions be designated by lot

This Greek philosopher believed that, wherever possible and where the need for technical knowledge was not a stumbling block, the charges should be chosen by lot to avoid influence peddling.

4. That a person can not exercise the same office twice

Aristotle believed that this rule of democracy was essential so that certain entrenched positions would not remain, which would make the personal interests of the person mixed with the political objectives pursued.

5. That the same person only occupies a public office at the same time

This rule, which had the exception of those dedicated to the protection of the city by the army, could serve as a primitive model of separation of powers.

6. That the public positions be of short duration

This was necessary, once again, so that the personal interests of politicians did not interfere too much with their political role.

7. That the elected offices administer justice

The idea of ​​justice should be above political objectives and concrete strategies, for the good of the whole population and not to set precedents of injustice.

8. That the assembly of the people have power over all things

The fundamental decisions must come from the sovereignty of the people, not from the decisions of a few people.

9.That no public office be for life

This was necessary to prevent gaps between the power of public office and the rest of the population. If there are lifelong charges, they could take any unfair measure, since they are guaranteed extra power throughout their lives and therefore would not have to pay the consequences.


9. The Mixed Regime and the Rule of Law: Aristotle's Politics, VII (May 2024).


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