The Grounds and Limits of Political Obligation

Dissertation, University of Southern California (1988)

This dissertation deals with the question of general political obligation. General political obligation is concerned with the question of whether citizens owe an obligation to states or political entities generally. This question is independent of whether citizens owe certain obligations to particular states under specific constitutions. ;The argument of the dissertation attempts to show that the individual receives benefits from the state that form both the grounds and also the limits of that obligation to the state. ;The first two chapters of the dissertation explain and justify the State of Nature theory of classical social contract philosophy as a useful tool for analyzing political obligation. It then revises and updates that theory in the light of developments in game theory and economics. The dissertation attempts to establish the grounds and limits of general political obligation based upon the existence of: negative externalities or disutilities that would exist in the State of Nature, and positive externalities called public goods that are necessary to reduce the level of negative externalities. ;"Coercion" is defined and explained in Chapter 3, and the author's definition of coercion is defended against rival definitions of that term. ;In the fourth chapter "consent" is defined, and it is argued that individuals in the State of Nature would consent to a state in order to minimize the negative externalities that exist in the State of Nature. ;The remaining two chapters are concerned with establishing the limits of the coercive powers of the state based upon what individuals would have unanimously consented to in the State of Nature. It is argued that there are certain negative externalities called natural injuries that individuals, solely in virtue of their humanity, would wish to avoid. ;Two principles of political obligation are defended: The Nonaggression Principle--that one is obligated not to inflict natural injuries upon others. The Public Goods Principle--that individuals have an obligation to do their part in the maintenance of public goods that protect them from natural injury
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Three Views on the Ethics of Tax Evasion.Robert W. McGee - 2006 - Journal of Business Ethics 67 (1):15-35.

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