September 20, 2012
The State and Political Obligation
- Negative argument: the state is the only alternative to the state of nature
- Is there a positive argument for a moral duty to obey the state?
Why political authority is morally problematic
- People are naturally free, equal and independent
- Legitimate power is created by us
- Authority requires my consent
Key features of the state
- Claims a monopoly of legitimate violence
- In return, it is responsible for protecting us
Universal political obligations
- Justifying the state = showing that there are universal political obligations
- Should we obey the law because it’s the law?
- Universal applies to everyone
The parent analogy
- State to citizen relation is like the parent to child relation
- Life and benefits generate gratitude and duty to obey
- Problem: unreasonable orders and laws
Voluntarism and the social contract
- Voluntarism: state’s political authority depends on my consent
- Social contract: political obligation based on contract or agreement
Was there an original contract?
- Original contract = actual, historical deal to consent to the state
- No evidence for it
- Highly improbable
Main problem with original contract
- A contract among them, back then, couldn’t obligate us, now
o What happened in the past is not relevant to me now
- Has every individual actually consented to the state?
- Only a minority explicitly consent
- What counts as a consent?
Are There Universal Political Obligations
Voluntarism: state’s political authority depends on my consent