Duties of Samaritanism and Political Obligation

Legal Theory 14 (3):193–217 (2008)
In this article I criticize a theory of political obligation recently put forward by Christopher Wellman. Wellman's “samaritan theory” grounds both state legitimacy and political obligation in a natural duty to help people in need when this can be done at no unreasonable cost. I argue that this view is not able to account for some important features of the relation between state and citizens that Wellman himself seems to value. My conclusion is that the samaritan theory can only be accepted if we are ready to give up either the traditional notion of political obligation as a prima facie duty valid for every citizen, or the current view of the relationships that should exist between states, citizens and foreigners (the view according to which states should have special concerns for their own citizens).
Keywords Political Obligation  Legitimacy  Samaritanism  Particularity  Global Justice  Partiality  Christopher H. Wellman  Fair-play
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