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Volume 47 • Number 3

July 2010



The Deep Problem with Voluntaristic Theories of Political Obligation

by Mikhail Valdman

Voluntaristic theories of political obligation claim that a citizen's moral obligation to obey his state's laws is grounded in his voluntary undertakings or agreements. Two of this view's more popular varieties are consent theories and reciprocation theories, the former grounding a citizen's political obligation in a promise (either tacit or explicit) and the latter grounding it in the acceptance or the receipt of the benefits of social cooperation. A common objection to these theories is that they cannot justify political obligation because the actual relationship between citizens and their state is insufficiently voluntary.

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ISSN: 2152-1123