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Aristotle Impact on Law Essay

Aristotle (384 – 322 BC), was a Greek philosopher, logician, and scientist. Along with his teacher Plato, Aristotle is generally regarded as one of the most influential ancient thinkers in a various ways. Aristotle was born in Stagira in northern Greece, and as a young man he studied in Plato’s Academy in Athens. After Plato’s death he left Athens to proceed in philosophical and biological research in Asia Minor and Lesbos, and he was then invited by King Philip II of Macedonia to tutor his young son, Alexander the Great.

Aristotle was extremely successful in tutoring Alexander, as he develoepd a great mind and was widely known for launching the invasion of the Persian Empire. Aristotle returned as a resident to Athens, and it was during this time (335-323 BC) when he wrote or at least completed some of his major theories, which included law. Aristotle and his teacher Plato, had alike minds when it came to their political views. They both believed that law had a moral purpose. They thought that it made people live their lives based on their reason, rather then their passion.

When Aristotle talks about people following their reason, he means that they live their lives to the fullest taking in consideration all the talent and skill they are blessed with and using it to their advantage. One accomplishes this by making the most out of what he/she has been given to benefit themselves in life. Basically, he was following the natural law tradition because he felt as though the most important purpose of law was to help people live their lives positively and be happy. Law helped lead people into a positive direction…

Aristotle advanced a theory of individual rights, at the same time accepting aspects of positive law theory and natural law theory. He was supporting equity in judicial decision making and tells us how this can operate consistently with the rule of law. Also, Aristotle’s brilliant ideas on ethics forms a basis for punishment in criminal law. He teaches how to educate lawyers and the legal profession to incorporate ethics and virtue; he teaches lawyers how they can be more persuasive. Furthermore, Aristotle also had a huge insight on moral virtues and believed that if these virtues are to be nurtured, law is needed.

He believed that law is essential to help discipline citizens and their actions, as well as to help maintain the beneficial habits they acquire. One of the most important aspects of our modern court/trial is the examining of the evidence. In most cases, the amount of quality evidence, or the lack of evidence, plays a huge role in making the final decision.

Aristotle was the first person to think out the problem on evidence. When he approached a problem, he would examine: a) what people had previously written or said on the subject, b.) the general consensus of opinion on the subject, and c)a systematic study of everything else that is part of or related to the subject. His studies on evidence extremely influenced the concept and everything that comes along with it in the present day.

He believed that every action needs to be judged according to all the relevant circumstances to the situation. As just mentioned, Aristotle believed that every action needed to be judged. Therefore, he believed that judging these actions were to be done based on the concept of equity.

It was the foundation of modern law and the road to justice. Aristotle was against some aspects of equity. For example, Aristotle believed that men were more useful and important in life. He believed that women should not be granted many of the rights that men had, such as the right to vote, but that is a different topic. When it came to judging someone based on his/her actions, Aristotle supported the concept of equity 100%. Aristotle seems to be primarily concerned to discover and refine the moral standards by which human beings should be governed.

What laws are to be used to establish and maintain those standards depends on the good sense of the community and the prudence of its leaders, including its poets and other educators. In particular, his views on the connection between the well-being of the political community and that of the citizens who make it up, his belief that citizens must actively participate in politics if they are to be happy and virtuous, and his analysis of what causes and prevents revolution within political communities have been a source of inspiration for many contemporary theorists.


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