Political Obligations

Political Obligations

Political Obligations

Political Obligations

Synopsis

Political Obligations provides a full defense of a theory of political obligation based on the principle of fairness (or fair play), which is widely viewed as the strongest theory of obligation currently available. The work responds to the most important objections to the principle of fairness, and extends a theory based on fairness into a developed 'multiple principle' theory of obligation. In order to establish the need for such a theory, Political Obligations criticizes alternative theories of obligation based on a natural duty of justice and 'reformist' consent, and critically examines the non-state theories of libertarian and philosophical anarchists. The work breaks new ground by providing the first in-depth study of popular attitudes towards political obligations and how the state itself views them. The attitudes of ordinary citizens are explored through small focus groups, while the 'self image of the state' in regard to the obligations of its citizens is studied through examination of judicial decisions in three different democratic countries.

Excerpt

In Chapter 5 , I address an important shortcoming of a theory of obligation based on the principle of fairness. in this chapter, I discuss an important preliminary matter. As noted in the Introduction, one problem with fairness theory concerns its ability to ground obligations to support the entire range of state services. While indispensable state services cause relatively few problems, the situation is more severe with other benefits. As we will see, in order to establish obligations in regard to these, the principle of fairness must be supplemented with other moral principles, giving rise to an mp theory of obligation. As we see in Chapter 5 , a natural duty of justice plays an important role in such a theory. However, in the literature, it is argued that the natural duty by itself can be developed into a full-fledged theory of obligation. If this were the case, it would make little sense to employ the natural duty as part of an mp theory. Accordingly, we must examine different natural duty theories, in order to ascertain what they can and cannot accomplish. Criticism of what we can call a full natural duty theory will set the stage for the partial theory employed in Chapter 5 .

Discussion in this chapter is in four sections. in Sections 1 and 2, I examine the natural duties of justice, as discussed by John Rawls, and criticize Rawls's attempt to use a natural duty to support just institutions as a basis for political obligations. Briefly, I argue that the natural political duty cannot be defended successfully from the 'original position,' the distinctive standpoint of Rawls's theory. Either the duty will not be sufficiently strong to ground moral requirements akin to political obligations, or if it will be, it will not be a 'natural' duty. the argument here raises questions about the force of natural duties, which can be seen to be damaging to other versions of the theory as well. in Section 3,

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