Citizens, Agriculture and Property in Plato’s Republic and More’s Utopia

21 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2011 Last revised: 26 Apr 2011

See all articles by Sheri Breen

Sheri Breen

University of Minnesota - Morris - Division of Social Sciences

Abstract

In the ideal city of the Republic, Plato forbids property ownership for the guardians while he retains private property for the lowest class, including the farmers who will provide the guardians’ food. For Plato, agricultural land and practices are the realm of lifelong farmers who are politically dedicated to the upkeep of the ruling class. In his novel Utopia, Thomas More also takes a communalist approach but he extends the ban on private property to the entire community, including those engaged in farming. Furthermore, he includes the practice of agriculture within the regular rotation of living arrangements so that virtually all Utopians have some experience with the land and food production. Thus, although both Plato and More present communalist theories of property, their ideal states show critically different approaches to the role of agriculture and the connection of citizens to the land that supports them.

Keywords: Plato, More, property, agriculture

Suggested Citation

Breen, Sheri, Citizens, Agriculture and Property in Plato’s Republic and More’s Utopia. Western Political Science Association 2011 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1812976 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1812976

Sheri Breen (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Morris - Division of Social Sciences

Social Science Divisioni
600 E 4th St
Morris, MN 56267

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