The Morality of Freedom

The Morality of Freedom

The Morality of Freedom

The Morality of Freedom

Synopsis

Winner of the W. J. M. Mackenzie Prize awarded by the Political Studies Association 1987, and the Elaine and David Spitz Prize for the best book on liberal or democratic theory. 'as significant a new statement of liberal principles as anything since Mill's On Liberty.' Times Literary Supplement

Excerpt

So far, even though we have kept an eye on the question of political authority, the discussion has been concerned with the wider notion of authority in general. in this chapter, while occasionally branching out to consider wider issues, the implications of the foregoing for the authority of states will be examined. the first section shows that the authority which states and governments claim cannot be based on the main argument for the justification of authority, i.e. that described by the normal justification thesis. Even reasonably just states claim more extensive authority than they are entitled to by that criterion. Sections 2 to 4 proceed to examine whether these limits of political authority can be extended by consent or in other ways. the final section of the chapter draws the emerging picture of the moral relations between the conscientious citizen and his state, assuming it to be reasonably just. It denies the existence of a general obligation to obey the law even in a reasonably just society, though it is argued that just governments may exist, and that in certain circumstances their existence is preferable to any alternative method of social organization. Throughout the discussion I refer interchangeably to the state, which is the political organization of a society, its government, the agent through which it acts, and the law, the vehicle through which much of its power is exercised. It is useful to avail ourselves of the general habit of personifying the law and talking of what it requires, permits, claims, authorizes, etc. the law requires, permits and claims what the organs of government, acting lawfully, and in particular the courts, say that it does.

1 the Normal Justification of Political Authority

The justification of authority, concluded the previous chapter, depends on one main argument, which may be extended and supported by a variety of secondary arguments. the

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