Political Naturalism and State Authority

Journal of Social Philosophy 43 (1):64-77 (2012)
For the political naturalist, skepticism about political obligations only arises because of a basic confusion about the necessity of the state for human well-being. From this perspective, human beings are naturally political animals and cannot flourish outside of political relationships. In this paper, I suggest that this idea can be developed in two basic ways. For the thick naturalist, political institutions are constitutive of the best life. For the thin naturalist, they secure the basic background conditions of peace and stability that are necessary for any minimally decent human life. Both approaches, however, are problematic, and while political institutions might have a special kind of value for human well-being, it is difficult to convert this claim into a justification for political obligations.
Keywords Political Obligation  Legitimacy  Political Naturalism  Associative Theories  Timothy Hinton  John Horton
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9833.2012.01551.x
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