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  • 1 Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PAUSA
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Abstract

In Book 3 of Plato’s Laws, we read that a legislator must aim to endow the polis with a trio of properties: freedom, wisdom, and internal friendship (philia). This paper explores what such freedom consists in, with a focus on the so-called doctrine of the mixed constitution. It argues that such freedom is a constitutional matter; that it is not to be identified with ‘voluntary servitude to the laws’ cultivated by persuasive preludes to the laws; nor is it the rational self-control essential to virtuous character, or citizens’ ability to decide and act for themselves; nor is it a restriction on the size of individual political authority. Rather, it is a freedom based on equality: a polis is free to the extent that its constitution mitigates the inherent inequality between rulers (archontes) and ruled (archomenoi), between those who wield political authority and those who are subject to that authority.

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