Duties to assist others and political obligations

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 3 (2):143-159 (2004)
In response to recent criticisms of traditional theories of political obligation, scholars have advanced moral reasons for complying with the law that focus on natural duties to assist other people who are in need. In discussions of political obligation, these ‘rescue principles’ are presented as alternatives to traditional principles. I argue that theories of political obligation based on rescue principles are not able to fulfill the role theorists assign them. If the underlying assumptions of rescue theories are uncovered, they can be seen also to support more traditional obligations to obey the law. Accordingly, rather than serving as alternatives to traditional principles, rescue principles can only supplement them. Key Words: political obligation • rescue • Copp.
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