The Limits of Political Obligation

Andres Rosler

in Political Authority and Obligation in Aristotle

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199251506
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602306 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies Series

 The Limits of Political Obligation

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Aristotle’s philosophy of law does not make sense if read as a plea for, or as taking for granted, unconditional political obligation. To be sure, he subscribes to the view that some unjust laws are to be put up with in the face of the consequences of disobedience for the common good. But this should not prevent us from seeing that Aristotle does defend the view not only that government is limited but also that there is a right of resistance against oppression. Aristotle’s discussion of citizenship in terms of parts and wholes, Spartan constitutional law, and tyranny reveals that he is more than willing to acknowledge that, in some cases, the very failure of political authority in fulfilling its morally justified tasks releases citizens from their duty to obey the government.

Keywords: holism; obedience; right of resistance; Sparta; totalitarianism; tyranny

Chapter.  22807 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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