Article

Philosophical Anarchism

William A. Edmundson and Bas van der Vossen

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online July 2013 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0194
Philosophical Anarchism

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Philosophical anarchism is a branch of political philosophy that is highly skeptical and sometimes even eliminative of the state. At their most ambitious, anarchist theories endorse a comprehensive ideal of social and political (if there should be such a thing at all) life in which the state does not play an essential role. Less ambitious versions attempt primarily to deny the legitimacy of the state. The reasons animating anarchist theories are diverse. Some regard the state as essentially an unjustifiably coercive institution. Others regard the existence of the state incompatible with important values, such as community. Yet, others merely object to the pretensions of authority by existing states. Philosophical anarchism has provided both negative and positive theses. Among its negative theses are the claims that existing states are illegitimate, that the typical uses of coercion by existing states are morally unjustified, and that citizens do not have a moral duty to obey the law. Among its positive theses are the claims that social stability is possible without centralized powers of legislation and enforcement as well as the more fundamental claim that people would in principle be able to treat each other justly if no state existed. Philosophical anarchism, then, refers to a particular set of philosophical views about the nature of political society. It should be distinguished from the political movement of anarchism, which typically calls more directly for resistance, including violent resistance, to the state. In the first instance, philosophical anarchist theories are committed only to regarding all existing state institutions as unjust, and not yet to any practical responses to these.

Article.  3874 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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