Aristotle and William H. Riker - an unexpected connection

Modern interpreters of Aristotle have often tried to explain away the Stagyrite's apparent preference for monarchy over aristocracy (or Politeia.) He clearly says that if there is someone "superlative in virtue" he ought to rule permanently regardless of the natural character or excellence of his subjects (1284b25-34, 1288a15-29, 1325b10-4, 1332bl6-27; cf. 1259b10-7, 1261a38-9). Kelsen speculates that this is because of his familiarty with Macedonian politics and closeness to King Phillip. Mulgan, and Newman, claim that this is a purely empty hypothesis, and not to be taken seriously. By contrast, P. A. Vander Waert claims that the rule of Kingship is most apt to promote the life of philosophia or leisured culture to which the best regime is dedicated.

Aristotle also has lots of things to say against Demokratia, the rule of the many, (of the poor) is, albeit that it is the best of the 'perverted' constitutions, while Tyranny is the worst. No one, I believe, not even William H. Riker himself has argued that Aristotle anticipates Riker's argument (based on Arrow's theorem) that the notion of a popular will is inherently flawed because all methods of aggregating social choices are prone to irrationality; and further that the only way to avoid Condorcet cycles, and strategic voting, is dictatorship.

Well ok that's probably because Aristotle didn't. He had other arguments against Demokratia (as well as some in favour of it) that showed it was inherently unstable, unreliable and prone to corruption. But, if he had, that would have been a really powerful argument simultaneously against Politeia and Demokratia, and in favour of Monarchy. Just saying.

James Finlayson