Political obligations in a sea of tyranny and crushing poverty

Legal Theory 20 (3):186-209 (2014)
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Christopher Wellman is the strongest proponent of the natural-duty theory of political obligations and argues that his version of the theory can satisfy the key requirement of ; namely, justifying to members of a state the system of political obligations they share in. Critics argue that natural-duty theories like Wellman's actually require well-ordered states and/or their members to dedicate resources to providing the goods associated with political order to needy outsiders. The implication is that natural-duty approaches weaken the particularity requirement and cannot justify to citizens the systems of political obligation they share in. I argue that the critics’ diagnosis of natural-duty approaches is correct, whereas the proposed implication is false. I maintain that 1) only natural-duty approaches can justify political obligations, and that 2) weakening the particularity requirement contributes to the theory's ability to justify a range-limited system of political obligations among compatriots.

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Aaron Maltais
Stockholm Environment Institute

Citations of this work

Fair-play obligations and distributive injustice.Göran Duus-Otterström - 2021 - European Journal of Political Theory 20 (2):167-186.
Content-independence and natural-duty theories of political obligation.Jiafeng Zhu - 2018 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 44 (1):61-80.
Fair-play obligations and distributive injustice.Göran Duus-Otterström - 2018 - European Journal of Political Theory 20 (2):147488511877862.

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References found in this work

The Problem of Global Justice.Thomas Nagel - 2005 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (2):113-147.
Are there any natural rights?H. L. A. Hart - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (2):175-191.
Distributive Justice, State Coercion, and Autonomy.Michael Blake - 2001 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 30 (3):257-296.
Justification and legitimacy.A. John Simmons - 1999 - Ethics 109 (4):739-771.

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