Aristotle and the Concept of Law1

W. von Leydena1

a1 University of Durham.

These then are the four main strands in Aristotle's thought concerning the law, or in other words, the four elements he might have distinguished in his conception of law. The analysis I have attempted seems to me to reflect both Aristotle's view of the complex nature of law and also what he would look upon as the different grounds for its validity. I think that the several elements in his doctrine are fundamentally independent of one another, and similarly that they do not compete with one another since they embody answers to different questions concerning law. Also the recurrent theme of my own comments has been the assumption that 'law' is a complex term, comprising in its application a number of different definitions concerning rules and validity, authority and obligation, sources of law, and the like. In my opinion it is the merit of Aristotle's conception of law that he appears to recognise the multiple meaning of the word ‘law’ and, accordingly, the need for a multiple definition.


1 Paper read to the Senior Political Theory Seminar, Manchester University.