Deference as a normative power

Philosophical Studies 166 (3):455-474 (2013)
Authors
Andrea Westlund
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Abstract
Much of the literature on practical authority concerns the authority of the state over its subjects—authority to which we are, as G. E. M. Anscombe says, subject “willy nilly”. Yet many of our “willy” (or voluntary) relationships also seem to involve the exercise of practical authority, and this species of authority is in some ways even more puzzling than authority willy nilly. In this paper I argue that voluntary authority relies on a form of voluntary obligation that is akin (in some respects) to the kind of obligation one undertakes in making a promise. Voluntary authority depends, that is, on the possibility of taking on certain obligations more or less at will. It is generated through an interpersonal transaction that involves a directed act of deference, on one side, paired with appropriate uptake of that deference, on the other. Deference, in the relevant sense, should be understood as a normative power that is exercised when agents transfer deliberative discretion to others, undertaking directed obligations to treat others’ directives as content-independent and peremptory reasons. Voluntary authority, thus understood, is both grounded in and constrained by the equal moral authority or autonomy of the participants, since only autonomous agents have the standing to defer in a normatively significant way
Keywords Authority  Voluntary obligation  Normative powers  Practical reasons  Deference  Autonomy
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-0047-9
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 34,925
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford University Press.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Autonomy, Authority, and Answerability.Andrea C. Westlund - 2011 - Jurisprudence 2 (1):161-179.
The Place of Home.Janet Donahoe - 2011 - Environmental Philosophy 8 (1):25-40.
Multiple Groundings and Deference.Antonio Rauti - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (247):317-336.
A Non-Normative Theory of Power and Domination.Pamela Pansardi - 2013 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (5):1-20.
Legal Obligation as a Duty of Deference.Kimberley Brownlee - 2008 - Law and Philosophy 27 (6):583 - 597.
The Possibility of Consent.David Owens - 2011 - Ratio 24 (4):402-421.
Anchoring Values in Nature.William C. Frederick - 1992 - Business Ethics Quarterly 2 (3):283-303.
Temporal Externalism and Our Ordinary Linguistic Practices.Henry Jackman - 2005 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 86 (3):365-380.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2012-11-07

Total downloads
69 ( #91,464 of 2,272,769 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #85,677 of 2,272,769 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature