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Journal Article

Aristotle and Open Population Thinking

Philip Kreager
Population and Development Review
Vol. 34, No. 4 (Dec., 2008), pp. 599-629
Published by: Population Council
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25434733
Page Count: 31
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Aristotle and Open Population Thinking
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Abstract

Aristotle's Politics contains the most extensive consideration of actual populations to survive from Antiquity. Population, for Aristotle, is a logistics of memberships. The size, fertility, and other properties of a state's population are determined by relationships among the several subpopulations that it comprises. This approach gives rise to a comprehensive logic that addresses many policy concerns of modern demography, yet within fundamentally different ideas of quantification and structure. Some of this logic fits easily with current demographic thinking. Relations among subpopulations, for example, play a crucial role in population change because they are conduits of communication and reflect differences in education. Aristotle's method stands in contrast to modern demographic thinking, however, in treating migration, inequality, and the mutability of population memberships as primary processes of population change. Given that interest in this conjunction of issues is now central to the demography of globalization, there is added reason to consider Aristotle's insights as complementary to modern population studies. His principal case study, the constitution of Athens, illustrates the development of his thought.

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