The role of reciprocity in Aristotle's theory of political economy

Kazutaka Inamura*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that what Aristotle has in mind as the criterion for estimating the value of products in Nicomachean Ethics V.5 is neither the Marxian concept of 'human labour' nor Polanyi's concept of 'status', but the benefit of a recipient, and maintains that Aristotle here does not analyse the mechanism of a market economy, but addresses the problem of how to build reciprocal relationships among citizens through the exchange of goods. Furthermore, unlike Nussbaum's capability approach, which draws attention to the concept of well-being, the paper argues that the concept of reciprocity plays the key role in Aristotle's distributive theory of property in the Politics and lays the foundation for his understanding of political governance as the exchange of governing and being governed in turn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-587
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of Political Thought
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy


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