Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Paul J. du Plessis
Consent (of the governed) is a political theory whereby the legitimacy of a state and its ability to exercise its powers are said to be derived from the permission of its citizens. This entry examines the development of the theory of consent, beginning with its Greco-Roman origins, then discussing medieval interpretations of consent, and concluding with an examination of consent in modern political theory. The philosophical origins of this theory may be found in the works of Plato (c. 428-c. 348 BCE) and his pupil Aristotle (c. 384–322 BCE) who, while discussing the modes of classification of constitutions, observed that some states are governed through the consent of the people. These comments, while philosophical in nature, reflected the political circumstances familiar to the authors. Ancient Greece consisted of a loose confederation of city-states, each with their own laws and political organization. Some of these cities, such as Athens (of which ...