Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (2):207-221 (2007)
Aristotle's account of natural slavery appears to be internally inconsistent concerning whether slavery is advantageous to the natural slave. Whereas the Politics asserts that slavery is beneficial to the slave, the ethical treatises deny such a claim. Examination of Aristotle's arguments suggests a distinction which resolves the apparent contradiction. Aristotle distinguishes between the common benefit between two people who join together in an association And the same benefit which exists between a whole and its parts. Master and slave share no common benefit, but instead the slave receives the same benefit a master does, albeit only through participation in the master as a part within a whole. Although Aristotle's distinction hardly justifies his doctrine of slavery, it saves Aristotle from one alleged internal inconsistency and sheds light on what Aristotle means by association and the common good
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