Libertarianism without Inequality

By Michael Otsuka | Go to book overview
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Chapter 5 Political Society as a Voluntary Association

Under what conditions, if any, does a government have legitimate political authority over those whom it governs? In this chapter and the next I offer a left-libertarian reconstruction and defence of John Locke's answer to this question. To set the stage in a Lockean fashion, I take government roughly to be the set of institutions that collectively retains a monopoly on the powers of legislation and punishment over those who occupy the territory over which it claims dominion. 1 I take political society roughly to be a group of individuals in a given territory who are subject to the control of a single government. I take the legitimate political authority of a government chiefly to include the following rights to legislate and punish: (1) the exclusive right to make laws that may be enforced by means of punishment and that those within the territory of the political society over which it claims dominion are (at least typically) morally obliged to obey, and (2) the exclusive right to enforce these laws by means of punishment. 2

A thesis which I call political voluntarism offers the following answer to the question with which this chapter began:

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