Philosophical Thinking: Aristotle on Citizenship

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Controversial Topics, Philosophical thinking.

(Question) ARISTOTLE ON CITIZENSHIP: Should Voting be a right or a privilege?
Aristotle said that citizenship should be open only to those who had the intellect and time to spend to wisely instruct government. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THERE SHOULD BE ANY LIMITS OR REQUIREMENTS IN ORDER THAT A NATIVE BORN PERSON RECEIVE AND KEEP THE FULL ADVANTAGES OF CITIZENSHIP? (Specifically the advantage of having a voice in government through voting) Put another way, should such advantage be (1) a RIGHT of birth available to all, or (2) a Privileged to be earned and maintained?

Using your present knowledge and experience, answer this question as if you were a member of a constitutional committee charged with designing the structures of a new society.

(Answer) I believe it is in the best interest of the people that everyone has the right to vote. Obviously certain restrictions apply such as age, citizenship, and the ability to comprehend the decision they are making. Does everyone have the sufficient knowledge to know who will best run our country? No, but that does not negate their right to have their say in how they think the country that they live upon and off of should be governed, even if that does mean they make the wrong choice. Besides, the way a citizen believes his or her country should be run is all a matter of opinion. Everyone is different and everyone had different circumstances. To help one is to take away from another. But what gives the helped the right to be helped any more than it gives the helper the right to restrain their help? Even if we only allowed those who we thought would donate the best of their votes to help our country there would always some personal motive involved that would taint the ballot. Nothing can be done without offending the other.

So this gets us back to the original answer. The reason that everyone should have the right to vote is so they could have their own voice, and their own say, no matter how small, in the place that they live. This way nothing can be blamed upon others who took the vote for their “best interests.” It is understood that these people who are ignorant of the ways of government could drag the county down but this is our choice. If a country in general is so ignorant that they vote somebody into power that does not know what they are doing or is a power hungry dictator then perhaps they deserve what’s coming to them for meddling in affairs they knew nothing of. A country is representative of its people. If its people are intelligent, knowledgeable people who know the law and keep it then that country will reap the benefits. But if a country is filled with people who don’t know better yet continue to vote people into power simply because they see their names on plastic signs by the highway then that country will soon show the true colors of its people.

It is our right to vote and to be a citizen,but it something that should be cherished and respected and used only when you are absolutely sure you are doing the right thing.

  1. Joshua says:

    The Romans had a pretty good system. 25 years of military service earned you full citizenship. But, since that wouldn’t go so well today, I’ll say the current system of it being both a birthright and an attainable status is pretty good. So I guess numero uno and numero two.

    On a more wishful note, I think Plato nearly nailed it with his philosopher-king system. Too bad it was basically communism. Although most of our education and way of thought is based off his work, so maybe we’re less far from his utopian stylkingdom than we realize.

    • You’re right Josh. Plato’s idea would be a great idea if you happen to be a prodigy of thought and intelligence. You’d be living the high life for sure. But if one happened to be a normal human being life would be less than desirable. I think that Plato might have been extremely right in theory. Let the people who know what they’re doing make all the right decision while making the people who have absolutely no idea do all the brainless labor. But I think that this would eliminate the possibility of people becoming all they could be to contribute to their society. Most of the time generalizations are correct, which is why they are generalizations. But every so often someone, or something comes along that breaks the mold and surpasses all expectations. Plato’s system would destroy opportunities like these for people who were born into unfortunate circumstances but wanted more. This would decrease moral among those who were laborers and eventually result in the laid-back attitude that permeates socialism and the communistic society.

  2. Oh and thanks for reading and commenting by the way. 🙂 It’s nice to know that I’m not writing all this for an unappreciative audience.

  3. Joshua says:

    Hence why communism has never worked. I thin that guy Lenin tried it once…

    However, Plato did come up with the concept of the Trinity and the idea of “seeing through a glass darkly,” that Paul later used, so he wasn’t wrong about everything.

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