Accounting for the Political Authority of the State

Nicholas Wolterstorff and Terence Cuneo

in Understanding Liberal Democracy

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199558957
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744808 | DOI:
Accounting for the Political Authority of the State

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One of the central projects of political philosophy has been to account for the authority of the state over its citizens and over those non-citizens living or traveling within its territorial jurisdiction. Around four centuries ago, that project took a dramatic turn. Rather than discuss the authority of the state "from above" in the context of a relation to God’s authority, the authority of the state was understood "from below" without reference to God's authority. The goal of constructing a successful account from below of political authority has, however, proved elusive. This essay offers an account of political authority from below, one which appeals to natural rights we have against the state.

Keywords: anarchy; directives; goods; Green; Leslie; Raz; Joseph; Simon; Yves; authorization; consent; Locke; John; natural right; obligation; political protection rights; potentia; potestas; state

Chapter.  13149 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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