PHI6373 - Political Obligation

2017-18 Outline:

States coerce citizens in ways that would be impermissible if the state didn’t have special moral authority to do so. After all, the state demands its citizens’ money, imprisons them, and even sends citizens to their deaths, but citizens seem mostly content to let the state continue to act in this way. Philosophers address this peculiarity by asking whether the relationship between the state and its citizens is one such that citizens ought to obey the state. This course examines political obligation and authority. The course will focus on both historical and contemporary explanations of political obligation. After a general introduction to obligations and duties the course will proceed in three parts, each focusing on a different kind of argument for political authority: transactional, natural, and associative arguments. Lectures and discussions will explore such questions as: How do individuals acquire political obligation? Why do we assign a special moral status to the state and are we justified in doing so? Is political obligation required because of something individuals have or would have done? Is political obligation entailed by existence within political communities? Is political obligation merely the consequence of being a moral agent?

Lectures - Autumn 2017

Monday 1-2pm - Hicks Building Lecture Theatre 9
Monday 4-5pm - Hicks Building Lecture Theatre B

This module is also available to undergraduates as PHI373.

If there are three or more postgraduates taking the module, a separate seminar will be scheduled for postgraduates only.