Government by Consent


in Ethics in the Public Domain

Published in print August 1995 | ISBN: 9780198260691
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682148 | DOI:
Government by Consent

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The idea that the legitimacy of government rests on consent is deeply embedded in Western thought. This chapter deals with the role of consent in the legitimation of government, and its theme is that this role is marginal and secondary. The first section explains the nature of the problem within the context of wider issues of the justification of government. The argument begins in the second section with one of the familiar paradoxes of authority, the conflict between authority and autonomy. The attempt to escape from this paradox by basing authority on consent leads to a consideration of the ability of consent the foundation of any political authority. The discussion concludes that consent merely represents the deliberate end of processes and actions that lead to the formation of an attitude of trust in one's government.

Keywords: qualified consent; trust; government's legitimacy; dominion; paradox; political authority; autonomy

Chapter.  7942 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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