A survey of the distinction between ethics and politics with an aristotelian appraisal

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, Turkey

Approval Date: 2010

Thesis Language: English

Student: Sinan Kadir Çelik

Supervisor: AHMET İNAM


In the history of philosophy, ethics and politics have either been considered as two unrelated, irreducible realms or as identical to each other. In the thesis the historical transformation of the problematic relation between ethics and politics is critically evaluated. It is argued that from the emergence of the conflict in Ancient Greece following the “Socratic ideal” to the modern attempt for its resolution by the “Machiavellian revolution,” the prominent theories developed for dealing with the problem have defined politics as an amoral practice, as a science, a technique or an art. An alternative Aristotelian approach is tried to be developed so as to elucidate the nature of the distinction between ethics and politics. According to this view, ethics and politics can neither be strictly separated from each other nor be reduced into one another. The Aristotelian conception of politike as “philosophy of human affairs” has ethical, practical and technical dimensions. The thesis tries to clarify at which point ethics and politics should be conceived as two different practices and at which point they cannot be treated as independent from each other. Hence, the present study aims to determine the peculiarities and the strong sides of Aristotelian practical philosophy in order to offer an alternative to resolve the problem under consideration.