An Examination of the Concept of Morality and Politics in Aristotle’s Philosophy.


Morality entails everything about man’s action, what he ought to do and what he ought not to do. Like moral standards and moral values, morality forms part and parcel of the life of every social group and civil society. Man, as a social and rational being, is naturally moral and political. Politics on the other hand entails everything about the political life in the society. This includes who should, and how the ruler ought to rule.

“The Concept of morality and politics in Aristotle” is a fresh and specific approach adapted by the writer to have a philosophical and a critical view of Aristotelian morality and politics. Aristotle argues that there is an end which stands above other ends in relation to human function. He calls it happiness- the highest good. Medieval philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine call it summum Bonum.

This is not in contradiction with the Aristotelian notion. Aristotle views the end as generality by postulating that everyone pursues it, both in the political life and in the moral life. For the excellence of the individual equals that of the state. For even the state should aim at providing the ultimate happiness for its citizens. For an individual does not seek morality in a vacuum but in a political society.


The political situation in some societies today has grossly degenerated. The democracy which we practice in our country is not encouraging. We see democracy only in theory but in practice, we experience tyranny. In January, 2012, the government of Nigeria decided to impose fuel subsidy on its citizens. This they did, without considering the public opinion. The citizens of Nigeria did not think it will lead to a better life for them.

Moreover, the people were not properly consulted. This stirred up a kind of rebellion among the people against the government. This act opposes the political and moral theory of Aristotle. Because for him, a state can only be good if its rulers seek the welfare of the people they govern, by striving to attain the good life for the individuals. In his moral philosophy, Aristotle posits that every action should have an ‘end’.

And that end Aristotle calls “happiness”. When a ruler imposes laws, which does not uphold equality and justice, and does not aim at the highest good of the citizens, that leader cannot be said to be a good leader. A cursory look at the concept of morality and politics appears unambiguous. When, however, critically surveyed, it cannot but reveal its ambiguity. The equivocal nature of the concept has ardently led great thinkers in the course of centuries to develop different theories and views about it.

Morality is primitively conceived as consisting in obedience to a tribal custom which is ultimately regarded as essential for the individual. The atomist such as Democritus maintains “morality is dominated by the idea of happiness which can only be achieved through the moderate cultivation of culture as the surest way of attaining the most desirable goal of life.” Socrates posits that no one is intentionally vicious. 



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StudentsandScholarship Team.

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