Article

Political Obligation

Ned Dobos

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online June 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0078
Political Obligation

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There are good, prudential reasons to obey the law. The prospect of punishment, not to mention loss of reputation and social exclusion, is enough for most any citizen possessed of a suitably far-sighted self-interest to discharge his or her legal duties. But is there a moral obligation to do what the law requires, just because the law requires it? If the answer is yes and the mere illegality of an act renders its performance prima facie morally wrong, political obligation obtains. Political obligation thus refers to the moral duty of citizens to obey the laws of their state. In cases where an action or forbearance that is required by law is morally obligatory on independent grounds, political obligation simply gives the citizen an additional reason for acting accordingly. But law tends to extend beyond morality, forbidding otherwise morally innocent behavior and compelling acts and omissions that people tend to think of as morally discretionary. In such cases, the sole source of one’s moral duty to comply with the law is one’s political obligation.

Article.  5025 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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