This final lecture on Aristotle focuses on controlling conflict between factions. Polity as a mixture of the principles of oligarchy and democracy, is the regime that, according to Aristotle, can most successfully control factions and avoid dominance by either extreme. Professor Smith asserts that the idea of the polity anticipates Madison's call for a government in which powers are separated and kept in check and balance, avoiding therefore the extremes of both tyranny and civil war.
This course is intended as an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Three broad themes that are central to understanding political life are focused upon: the polis experience (Plato, Aristotle), the sovereign state (Machiavelli, Hobbes), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). The way in which different political philosophies have given expression to various forms of political institutions and our ways of life are examined throughout the course.