The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Medborgardygd : Den europeiska staden och det offentliga rummets etos

Civic virtue : The European city and the ethos of public space


Summary, in English

What does it mean to be a good citizen? Starting with Aristotle’s ethics and philosophy of friendship formulated between the private and the public in politics' and with the timeless question of what makes a society possible as a backdrop, the author outlines a possible answer. A good citizen is a virtuous citizen, and a virtuous citizen is prudent, courageous, moderate and just. In addition, a good citizen is an active and conversing citizen in need of public places for deliberation and social interaction. By virtue of its proximity and density, the European city has throughout history generated such places and has provided a vigorous public sphere—the city has thus nurtured civic virtues. The phenomenon also has specific spatial characteristics. In the spatial configuration of the city, in the morphology of the city and the “grammar” of public spaces—of streets, squares and buildings—we find the physical environment of civic interaction. In the city we find places whose spatial qualities have stimulated the development of civic virtues and have given birth to a public ethos.

The city has, however, not only been an expression of civic harmony. Throughout history it has also been an arena for antagonism and conflict and through its spatial configuration an expression of power, dominance and control. Between these analytical extremes—between the city as civic public life and the city as authoritarian control—the author tells a vivid story of the European city drawing on various examples across time and space. On a more abstract level, the book argues for the importance of using both normative and empirical theories in an attempt to give meaning to a complex reality. Moreover, a comprehensive use of methodological ideal types provides a pragmatic stance in the classical debate between realism and relativism in the philosophy of science.

Publishing year





Lund Political Studies



Document type



Natur och kultur


  • Political Science


  • Novgorod
  • Florence
  • European history
  • ideal type
  • city
  • justice
  • temperance
  • fortitude
  • prudence
  • friendship
  • citizenship
  • citizen
  • Aristotle
  • civic virtues
  • Problem of order
  • virtue ethics
  • Moscow.
  • Political and administrative sciences
  • Statsvetenskap
  • förvaltningskunskap




  • [unknown] [unknown]


  • ISSN: 0460-0037
  • ISBN: 91-27-09408-1

Defence date

7 June 2002

Defence time


Defence place

Edens hörsal, 1 våningen, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen.


  • Bo Lindensjö (Docent)