Green: Political Obligation

H. A. Prichard

in Moral Writings

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780199250196
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598265 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

 Green: Political Obligation

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Analyses Green's rather obscure treatment of two important questions: (1) ‘Why does a subject have the duty to obey the ruler or sovereign?’; and (2) ‘Why is the receipt of an order backed by a threat sufficient to establish this duty when the order comes from a ruler?’ Prichard considers Green's position regarding the grounds and justification for obedience to law to be part of a larger theory of moral obligation that is inconsistent with our ordinary moral ideas. To Green's seeming denial of the existence of any natural rights or duties, Prichard responds that Green in fact has failed to state a sense in which there really are natural rights and obligations. Moreover, Green's denial that we can answer the question ‘Why ought we to obey the government?’ can be formulated only by maintaining the existence of an obligation independent of our government's commands. The core of truth in Green's position, according to Prichard, lies in his recognition that a factor necessary to secure obedience is the subject's unselfish interest in the welfare of other members of her community.

Keywords: duty; Green; interest; natural right; obedience; obey; obligation; order; ruler; welfare

Chapter.  14718 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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