On the Logic of Justifying Political Authority

Rex Martin

in A System of Rights

Published in print May 1997 | ISBN: 9780198292937
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599811 | DOI:
 On the Logic of Justifying Political Authority

Show Summary Details


Three elements of authority are identified—a government's rightful title to issue rules, a reasonable expectation of compliance with them, and the propriety of using coercive enforcement to back them up—and the book argues that these elements need to be linked together in order for one to speak of political authority as justified. It argues, further, that the connection of these elements requires us to move to a background theory, which is itself a sketch of an internally coherent system of political institutions and conceptions (in the case at hand one that centres on rights). All this is set out in deliberate contrast to what might be called ‘external grounds of justification’, as found, for example, in what might be called the ‘obligationist tradition’ (e.g. social contract theory). Thus, an introduction to the character of this book and an overview of its main themes is provided in the book's first chapter.

Keywords: coercive enforcement; compliance; internal coherence; justification; obligationism; political authority; rules; social contract theory

Chapter.  9540 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.