A Philosophical Theory of Citizenship: Obligation, Authority, and Membership

Lexington Books (2008)
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Abstract

This book develops an “idiomatic” foundational theory of the self and its moral obligations. It then employs this theory to answer a variety of questions about legal obligation, political authority, community, and international justice. It argues that we ought to obey a particular community’s laws and government commands, so long as our government restricts itself to protecting classical liberty and individual property rights under the rule of law. It further argues that people today should ideally live in confederated, legally sovereign nation-states or nation-unions. Finally, it suggests that we have greater obligations to our compatriots than we do to foreign citizens, although we will often have pressing moral reasons to obey foreign laws while abroad, grant citizenship to outsiders who wish to join us, and help relieve foreign people’s misery.

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Steven J. Wulf
Lawrence University

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