Why Did Aristotle Think That Slavery Is Not Unjust Essay

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Why did Aristotle think that slavery is not unjust? In context, to own a slave was commonplace in 4th Century BC Athens where each household, no matter how rich or poor, would have at least one. Clearly, at the time, there was no great criticism of slavery but Aristotle nonetheless defends the Greek lifestyle. In Book One of The Politics, Aristotle passionately explains and justifies the role of the slave and slavery as an institution. To him, slavery is twofold. Aristotle suggests that there are ‘natural slaves’ and ‘conventional slaves’ and throughout this essay I will be exploring how justice relates to each one of those ideas. It is important to understand that Aristotle’s views on mankind were very different from our modern perception. He argues in an almost Platonic sense that people are born into certain roles in society; ‘from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.[1]’ hence the idea of the ‘natural slave’. Aristotle says that these are people intended by nature to be a slave as it is within their makeup. ‘If men differed from one another in the mere forms of their bodies as much as the statues of the Gods do from men, all would acknowledge that the inferior class should be slaves of the superior. ... It is clear, then, that some men are by nature free, and others slaves, and that for these latter slavery is both expedient and right.[2]’ Not only should these people be slaves but they should be grateful to their masters for letting them serve under them. Here we see the justification and the defence of slavery as describing slaves as natural beings destined to serve their masters. One of Aristotle’s more famous metaphors links to this theme of nature as he regularly refers to the slave as an animal or an instrument. On this first idea, Aristotle presents a scenario where slavery would indeed seem

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