Distributive Justice as the Task of the Polis

Read this article. In Book III of Politics, Aristotle analyzes arguments for and against various constitutions that employ different notions of a person's worth. This includes his preferred notion of distributive justice as proportionate equality taken from Book V of Nicomachean Ethics: justice requires that benefits be distributed to individuals in proportion to their merit or desert.

Oligarchs are mistaken in thinking that those who are superior in wealth should also have superior political opportunities and standing. Democrats are mistaken in thinking that those who are equal in free birth should also have correspondingly equal political opportunities and standing. Though different in their conception of personal worth, for Aristotle both the oligarchs and the democrats are mistaken for the same reason: they assume a false conception of the ultimate end of the polis. Presented here are three different interpretations of what Aristotle means by rule of the best persons and what the common well-being of the polis entails.