Chapter

Political agency

Lynn Dobson

in Supranational Citizenship

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780719069529
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781781702154 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719069529.003.0006
Political agency

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Chapter 5 shows how and where citizenship fits into an account of the relationship between morality and politics. It claims that citizenship is the essential institutional link between individual human agency and collective political action. It deduces from Gewirth's notion of rational agency a purely political conception of agency that, it contends, flows from his theory of action and interaction. Citizenship is better understood as an institutional role than as a status, and less about passive rights-holding than it is about effective powers to shape existential conditions. The argument presented here is that citizenship is instrumental to persons’ being able to carry out their mutual obligations as moral agents; its task is to render agency operative, by transmuting political agency into capacity for collective action. Thus, citizenship is not a desirable contingency but a moral necessity, and a third primary good, the powers of citizenship, should be added to Gewirth's two primary goods of freedom and well-being.

Keywords: Citizenship; Moral agent; Rational agent; Political agency; Institutional role; Collective action; Alan Gewirth; Obligation

Chapter.  5725 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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