Brenda Cheeks Purdue University Calumet

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Brenda Cheeks

Purdue University Calumet
Aristotelian Politics:

Does the Patriot Act Negate Civic Virtue?
This paper examines whether or not contemporary political policies such as the Patriot Act serve to negate civic virtues. Section I discusses the concept and context of virtue from a classical perspective. Section II focuses on how virtue is habituated into society and its impact on communities. Section III follows a concise application of the mean and defines it in terms of private property. Section IV explores limits of communal property in contemporary society and the unanticipated ramifications for liberty when juxtaposed with issues of national security. Section V outlines the Patriot Act as a determinate aspect of collective safety and explores the cost imposed on individual freedoms. Section VI concludes with an examination of how language is asserted in the promotion or suppression of political ideals and its ramifications for civic virtue.


In this paper I will discuss whether or not the USA Patriot Act intimidates civic participation or if the controversial policy is a necessary defense against threats to the common welfare. For many, the Patriot Act symbolizes a usurpation of the rights and liberties of Americans while others hold a more pragmatic view: times of crisis call for decisive measures to ensure national security. Whatever stance one takes, if a democratic form of government is to triumph against imminent threat or potential destruction, a civil environment which facilitates the free exchange of ideas is imperative in times of crisis or calm. This discourse attempts to shed light on the impact that the USA Patriot Act may exact upon the American civic psyche. In this writing, I endeavor to present a summary of civic virtue which may be most conducive to fundamental American values. While the diverse character of our populace coupled with our individualized ideals could necessarily make for an exhaustive theoretical listing, I will make an effort to ground my discussion within a more generally accepted philosophical context. Aristotle states: “…the man who is truly concerned about politics seems to devote special attention to excellence, since it is his aim to make citizens good and law abiding…an examination of virtue is part of politics…”1 According to Aristotle, our study of political science necessitates a knowledge of virtue as an end of government. Any policy or practice that presents itself as a possible impediment to that conclusion is worthy of political theorists’ discussion. I have focused on Aristotelian principles as a backdrop to provide a comprehensive description of political fundamentals which bind together and project society toward the achievement of virtue. These themes may prove significant in their correlation to the American democracy; the structure of our political system facilitates the participation of citizens as an example of the ‘active virtue’ which Aristotle espouses.

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