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Topics in Moral and Political Philosophy Political Obligation II: Natural Duties and Associative Reponsibilities.

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Presentation on theme: "Topics in Moral and Political Philosophy Political Obligation II: Natural Duties and Associative Reponsibilities."— Presentation transcript:

1 Topics in Moral and Political Philosophy Political Obligation II: Natural Duties and Associative Reponsibilities

2 Natural duty view Natural Duty of Justice: ‘first, we are to comply with and to do our share in just institutions when they exist and apply to us; and second, we are to assist in the establishment of just arrangements when they do not exist, at least when this can be done with little cost to ourselves’ (Rawls, 1971, p. 351). What kind of duty? Wellman: Positive Duty (Samaritan Duty) Renzo: Negative Duty (Self-Defence)

3 Particularity Requirement Particularity requirement: “that we are only interested in those moral requirements [including obligations and duties] which bind an individual to one particular political community, set of political institutions, etc.” (1979, p. 31; emphasis in original). A pluralist model? Natural Duty + Fair Play

4 Transactional Theories Transactional theories ground political obligation in some kind of interaction between the state and its citizens. (Contract, Fair- play) Appeal: PO is treated as something that individuals choose to incur, rather than as an imposition. Problem: under-inclusiveness  Cannot account for Universality

5 Natural duty theories Natural duty theories ground PO in some moral duty that all individuals owe to all human beings, regardless of any transaction. (E.g. promote justice, promote utility). Appeal: These theories account for universality, Problem: overinclusiveness  cannot account for Particularity

6 Three requirements for a theory of Political Obligation Universality: everyone living on the territory of the state has a duty to obey the law Particularity: political obligation involves a duty to obey the laws of a particular state (the one to which we belong); Generality: political obligation involves a prima facie obligation to obey all the laws of the state any time we are in a position to do so

7 Associativism PO is grounded in our occupation of certain social roles. These roles have not been voluntarily entered, but are duty-laden, and thus generate obligations. Compare: Family obligations, friendship obligations. NB: Associativism seems able to account both for universality and particularity because the theory grounds a duty to obey the law for all and only the members of the political community.

8 Objections 1)Do associative obligations exist? 2)If they do, can they be ultimately reduced to transactional obligations? 3)If they exist and create genuine moral obligations, can they ground political obligation?

9 Structure of Associativism ‘Commonplaces’ about the way we relate to our polity: -we regard taxes and legal punishment as conceptually distinct from theft and the mere threat of harm. -we feel pride or shame in relation to the actions of our polity -we normally accept that the polity can act in our name, thereby committing us in many ways -we generally accept that we are answerable for what our polity does, whether or not we support its policies

10 Structure of Associativism “Our membership of a particular polity not only shapes our lives in a causal sense, it also enters conceptually and morally into the way we think about ourselves, our relationships with others, in what we feel and how we think about what we should do” (J. Horton, Political Obligation) “Proof” of PO Vs drawing our attention to the many ways in which we think of ourselves as members of a polity

11 2 steps in the Associativist argument 1)Our identity is determined by our being part of a specific political community (M. Sandel, C. Taylor) 2)Conceptual relationship between membership within the political community and the obligations owed to the community. Acknowledging that membership within the political community has non-instrumental value is to see the other members as sources of special responsibilities in virtue of our relationship with them.

12 Rejection of “External Justification” PO does not need an ‘external justification’ (based on an independent moral principle such as consent or a natural duty of justice). Hermeneutic effort aiming to uncover the social pre-conditions of our identity, and the role that political obligation plays within the relationships generated by them. 1)PO is constitutive of our relationship to our polity of which we are members 2)this relationship is constitutive of our own identity

13 Objections 1)Circularity: the commonplaces listed by associativists are a consequence of the fact that we grow up in political communities. Not what justifies our membership in these communities. 2)Individuals can be manipulated into identifying themselves with morally repugnant or degrading practices. manipulation objection repugnance 3)Do we need to accept somehow membership?

14 Answers to 2 Tamir: Associative obligations are only prima facie Horton: associative obligations can only be generated in the case of associations that have a minimal threshold of value “Institutions which give rise to moral obligations … exist within a wider context of other moral beliefs and commitments, … [and t]hese may set various limits to the moral obligations to which institutions can legitimately give rise” (Horton, Political Obligation)

15 Two forms of anarchism Political Anarchism: the traditional view that we have a moral obligation to fight against and try to eliminate the state; Philosophical Anarchism the view that states are not morally justified in ruling, i.e. they have no authority over us. This is not to say that they are to be eliminated or that we are never required to act as they say.

16 Are states “useful bullies”? “States might be bullies, restricting our autonomy without warrant, but they may be useful bullies, and in resisting them we may both act imprudently and harm others who rely on their states” (John Simmons, Political Philosophy, 2008, p. 63).

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