The Advantages of Civic Friendship

Journal of Philosophical Research 24:459-471 (1999)
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Abstract

Aristotle distinguishes three types of friendship: virtue or character friendship, advantage friendship, and pleasure friendship. He also holds that the civic relation is a friendship, but it is unclear to which of the three types it belongs. There appear to be two candidates. It is either a character friendship, or an advantage friendship. I argue that it cannot be a character friendship, since that would entail that citizens have active goodwill toward one another, and Aristotle claims that such goodwill can exist only among a few relatively rare character friends. However, if the relation is not a character friendship, Aristotle’s claim that the city is more than alliance for security and exchange becomes puzzling. I argue that Aristotle’s view is that the civic friendship is a special type of advantage friendship in that one of its advantages is that it makes character friendships possible. This explains why rulers and citizens should want their fellows not only to act virtuously, but also to be virtuous.

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