Multiple principles of political obligation

Political Theory 32 (6):801-824 (2004)
Scholars who doubt the existence of general political obligations typically criticize and reject theories of obligation based on individual moral principles, for example, consent, fairness, or a natural duty of justice. A stronger position can result from combining different principles in a single theory. I develop a multiprinciple theory of political obligation, based on the principle of fairness, a natural duty of justice, and what I call the "common good" principle. The three principles interact in three main ways: "cumulation," combining the separate state services that different principles cover; "mutual support," combining the force of different principles in regard to the same state services; and simple overlap. The resulting theory is able to satisfy the main conditions for an adequate theory of obligation: demonstrating that all or nearly all inhabitants of society have moral requirements to obey the law, and that these extend to the full range of state services
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