Enforcing the Law and Being a State

Law and Philosophy 31 (1):99-123 (2012)
Many anarchists believe that a stateless society could and should feature laws. It might appear that, in so believing, they are caught in a contradiction. The anarchist objects to the state because its authority does not rest on actual consent, and using force to secure compliance with law in a stateless society seems objectionable for the same reason. Some people in a stateless society will have consented to some laws or law-generating mechanisms and some to others – while some will have consented to none. Someone’s obedience to a legal requirement could be justly enforceable absent the state, nonetheless, given either her actual consent to the requirement or to a mechanism responsible for generating it or the coextensiveness of the legal requirement with a moral requirement. And it could thus be just on the anarchist’s own terms to enforce a narrow range of positive legal requirements even against outlaws who had declined to consent to them
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