Does John Locke have an answerto Aristotle’s question of: “what is a good citizen”? Aristotlewants to explore and understand nature of different states and constitutionsbut in order to do that, he argues that first we would have to take a deeperlook at the nature of citizenship. Aristotle believes that saying that acitizen is someone who lives in a city or has access to the courts of laws isnot enough, he supplements this argument by mentioning other people groups thathas access to these things as well, specifically slaves and resident aliens (ThePolitics of Aristotle, 2009, p. 122). Instead, Aristotle proposes an idea thatcitizen is someone who upholds the public office and participates inadministration of justice, this definition, which he suggests is onlyapplicable to individuals in democratic state, is then further broadened statingthat: “a citizen is anyone who is entitled to share in deliberative or judicialoffice”. To understand if John Locke has an answer to Aristotle’s question orif he’s even interested in such a question it is necessary to look deeper andexplore more how Aristotle and John Locke views the states and constitutions,how they explain them and what are their views on citizenship (if they have any). Aristotlepoints out that though the status of citizenship in most cases are reserved forthose who are born from citizen parents (in other words inherited from citizenparents) becomes irrelevant in such cases as constitutional change, revolutionor any other either internal or external cases, during which the body ofcitizens change. This again leads to another question: To whom may thecitizenship can be granted so it would be according to what is morally rightand fair and can the state be held accountable for decisions made by individualswho have not been justly granted the status of citizenship.
Aristotle goes evenfurther by looking at the connection between city and government, meaning, if cityis not identical to its government then what defines a city and at which pointcan it be argued that a city has lost its identity (The Politics of Aristotle,2009, p. 125). To this Aristotle gives a suggestion: City is defined by itsconstitution, a change in constitution would be directly reflected on the city.
Aristotlethen explores and compares the criteria for being a good citizen and a goodman. Aristotle says: “.. it follows thatwe should consider whether the same virtues which constitute a good man make avaluable citizen, or different: and if a particular inquiry is necessary forthis matter we must first give a general description of the virtues of a goodcitizen..” As an example Aristotle uses a sailor. “A sailor is one of those who make up a community, so is a citizen, althoughthe province of one sailor may be different from another’s (their respectiveduties differ) .
..” – (The Politics of Aristotle, 2009, p. 127). Aristotle uses sailor as an examplebecause, even though an accurate description of any good sailor must refer tohis specific abilities there are some things in which the same description canbe applied to the whole crew: the safety of the ship is a business of all thecrew members, as this is general centre of all their cares.
Aristotle arguesthat just like with sailors the same can be applied with respect to thecitizens. Although every citizen may differ in few particulars they still havea common care that they share between themselves, “the safety of community, for community of the citizens composes thestate: for which reason the virtue of a citizen has necessarily a reference tothe state”: states Aristotle. But it doesn’t stop there, as stated before,if there are different sorts of governments then the virtues that make an excellentcitizen in one community doesn’t necessarily mean that it is true in another.Aristotle argues that an excellent citizen doesn’t possess virtue whichconstitutes a good man.
Because there are different constitutions there shouldbe different kinds of good citizens but to be a good man one just has topossess the perfect virtue which is the only standard. That is why Aristotleargues that one can be a good citizen even without being a good man, he alsosuggests that a monarch/ good ruler who possesses the practical wisdom can beboth: a good man and a good citizen.Aristotle also touches on the subjectof whether the manual laborers can be citizens. Although he acknowledges that acity needs laborers he also explains that everyone who is necessary to the cityisn’t necessarily a citizen. But just like said before, in differentconstitutions different kind of people constitute as citizens. For example, inoligarchies, which recognizes only those who are wealthy to be citizens, successfuland rich laborers might constitute as citizens.
Aristotle doesn’t forget to describethe different constitutions/ regimes that exist. Constitutions are separated in2 groups with 3 regimes in each: just and unjust. The just constitutions are centredtowards bringing about the well-being of all the states citizens while theunjust constitutions are respectively the opposite, the benefactors are thosein power.
The constitutions also vary in the size of the governing body,meaning that there are constitutions for an individual person, for a small andexclusive group or masses. A just constitution of single person is Kingship, bya small group Aristocracy, by masses a Politeia and their respective counterpartsof unjust government are: Tyranny, Oligarchy and Democracy.