Is there a prima facie obligation of citizens to obey the reasonably just laws of a legitimate polity or state in which they find themselves members? The intuitive starting point of many western accounts of legitimate political authority is political voluntarism, rooted in Lockean liberalism. A. John Simmons, himself, somewhat a consent theorist, extends Locke’s argument to argue for philosophical anarchism, since consent or some other meaningful voluntarist arrangement is not given by individuals to the states in which they find themselves. In this paper, I argue instead that political authority should not be derived from political voluntarism. I will present an argument that the political relationship is sui generis, thus denying the comparison on which Simmons relies between transactional consent in personal relationships and consent in relationships between citizen and state. I then will use the distinction drawn here to motivate an account to establish the legitimacy of some state authority.
Ockham Society Convenor: Sean Costello | Ockham Society Webpage