Development and Political Theory in Classical Athens

30 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2015

See all articles by Federica Carugati

Federica Carugati

Indiana University Bloomington - Ostrom Workshop; Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science; Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Josiah Ober

Stanford University - Department of Classics

Barry R. Weingast

Stanford University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: June 9, 2015

Abstract

Analyzing the birth of political thought in Greece uniquely as a response to democracy in Athens overlooks the economic, social and legal aspects of the profound transformation that Athens underwent in the classical period. That transformation did not merely affect political structures. Without understanding this larger transformation, we cannot adequately explain the development of Greek political thought. Between the late 6th and 4th centuries BC, Athens transitioned from an undeveloped limited access, “natural state” toward a developed open access society – a society characterized by impersonal, perpetual and inclusive political, economic, legal and social institutions that protected individual rights and sustained the polis’ exceptional growth.

Some of those who witnessed this transformation first-hand attempted to grapple, often critically, with its implications for politics, social relations, and moral psychology. We show that Thucydides, Plato, and other Greek political thinkers devoted a considerable part of their work to analyzing the polis’ tendency toward political but also economic, social, and legal inclusion. Such a tendency, as many of them recognized, made Athens stand out among other Greek poleis, despite the fact that Athens was a democracy, not because of it. Democracy, therefore, is not the only explanatory variable in these accounts.

Keywords: development, political development, political theory, classical athens

JEL Classification: B12, D70, H11, N40

Suggested Citation

Carugati, Federica and Ober, Josiah and Weingast, Barry R., Development and Political Theory in Classical Athens (June 9, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2616105 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2616105

Federica Carugati

Indiana University Bloomington - Ostrom Workshop ( email )

513 North Park Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47408
United States

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science ( email )

Bloomington, IN
United States

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Josiah Ober

Stanford University - Department of Classics ( email )

Building 110
Stanford, CA 94305-2080
United States
650-724-0868 (Phone)
650-723-1808 (Fax)

Barry R. Weingast (Contact Author)

Stanford University, Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
650-723-0497 (Phone)
650-723-1808 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.stanford.edu/group/mcnollgast/cgi-bin/wordpress/

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