Aristotle on Arbitration, Forgiveness and Rational Dialogue

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter will discuss whether Aristotle’s analogy between philosophical argumentation and arbitration is practically clarifying. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle solves theoretical disputes about ethical issues through a compromise-seeking dialogue resembling those carried out by legal arbitrators when resolving legal disputes between citizens. In several of his texts, Aristotle draws an explicit parallel between the philosopher and the arbitrator: they both act impartially in cross-examining the different positions of the parties, assessing the validity of their arguments, and determining how true or truthful the positions and the parties are. Both arbitration and philosophical argumentation promote equity by trying to find a reasonable compromise and unearthing the causes of the parties’ conflict. For Aristotle, correct evaluation of what is equitable requires practical wisdom and compassion. In conclusion, it is argued that Aristotle guides philosophers to emulate arbitrators in resolving disputes, forgiving human weaknesses, and searching for shared understanding rather than declaring winners or losers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw and Philosophy Library
EditorsLiesbeth Huppes-Cluysenaer, Nuno M.M.S. Coelho
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-45484-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-45485-1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameLaw and Philosophy Library
ISSN (Print)1572-4395
ISSN (Electronic)2215-0315

Fields of Science

  • 611 Philosophy
  • Arbitration
  • Aristotle
  • Dialectical argumentation
  • Equity
  • Forgiveness
  • Rational dialogue

Cite this