Title

Legitimate Authority Without Political Obligation

Publication Title

Law & Philosophy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-1998

Abstract

It is commonly supposed that citizens of a reasonably just state have a prima facie duty to obey its laws. In recent years, however, a number of influential political philosophers have concluded that there is no such duty. But how can the state be a legitimate authority if there is no general duty to obey its laws? This article is an attempt to explain how we can make sense of the idea of legitimate political authority without positing the existence of a general duty to obey the law. The explanation makes use of a distinction between laws of general application, on one hand, and on the other the particularized, directed efforts by state officials to channel and resolve disputes (including those arising from violations of the law). A state's legitimate authority entails a general duty to cooperate in the latter type of effort, rather than upon a dubious general duty to obey the law.

Comments

External Links
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Recommended Citation

William A. Edmundson, Legitimate Authority Without Political Obligation, 17 Law & Phil. 43 (1998).

Volume

17

Issue

1

First Page

43

Last Page

60

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