The Monist 66 (4):472-486 (1983)

I propose to discuss here a much-celebrated objection to the concept of political authority. The authority of the state, this objection goes, cannot be justified because it demands of persons that they compromise their moral autonomy. The argument supporting this objection is usually advanced in conceptual terms; political authority is said to be inconsistent with moral autonomy in its very concept. For reasons to be discussed shortly, I think this argument is mistaken. More importantly, however, I think it misrepresents the nature of the conflict which is likely to arise between the authority of the state and the autonomous moral agent. By getting clear on the problems with the conceptual argument, we will be in a better position to appreciate the actual character of this conflict. My discussion of the conceptual argument is intended to serve as a vehicle for the pursuit of this larger goal. It should become apparent that the conflict between the moral agent and the state, as it will be critiqued here, is an inescapable dimension of political life. But I shall offer some reasons to think that this point does not require us to question the legitimacy of political authority as is frequently supposed.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Science
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist198366435
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Autonomy, Authority, and Anarchy.James Humphries - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Glasgow

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