The Ethical Obligation, Consent, Fair Play, And Associationist Theories

2426 Words Dec 5th, 2016 10 Pages
On what basis (if any) do citizens have a duty to obey the laws of their state?

This question is not one concerning the issue of if one should follow the laws of the state, but rather concerns the issue of why we should obey the law, under what moral obligation are we to follow the laws set by the state. This essay will explore three theories of political obligation, Consent, Fair Play, and Associationist Theories. Hopefully, by the end of this essay, we shall decide upon which is the most successful in explaining the duty one has to obey the law. One will reach the conclusion that, although all three approaches discussed are flawed, they show that one does have a duty to obey the law of the state, as without this there would be no reason to not act immorally to further oneself. It is important to note that this essay is concerned with political obligation in the prudential sense, rather than a moral sense, meaning obligation to obey the law simply because it is the law, rather than because there is an independent moral justification for doing what any law requires. For example, consider that there was a law against punching people. The moral consideration would be that hitting someone is wrong because it is morally wrong, whereas the prudential consideration would be that there stands a law against punching and therefore I won 't do it, as to follow the law and avoid punishment. This is important as it highlights that one is not considering the more complex question of…

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