History[ edit ] In his book A History of Political TheoryGeorge Sabine collected the views of many political theorists on consent of the governed. Hence they are bound to obedience only conditionally, namely, upon receiving the protection of just and lawful government…the power of the ruler is delegated by the people and continues only with their consent.
The Problem of Political Obligation Consent theory of political obligation essay you have an obligation to do something, that obligation is not an absolute moral claim on your actions. If you have an obligation or duty to do something, that is a very good reason for acting in a particular way, but not a conclusive reason for doing so.
I now have an obligation to go to lunch at the agreed upon time and location. But if on my way to lunch I come across a child drowning in a pond, my obligation does not mean that I ought to let the child die and continue to lunch.
Clearly, other moral considerations dominate the obligation to meet for lunch. What this means is that even if it can be established that political obligations exist and bind us to our governments, that does not mean that we are morally required to obey the government in all cases.
It would provide a very strong prima facie reason to do so — but if obeying the law meant that some significantly greater harm would occur, the morally correct action is to disobey. This is an important bound to what I am attempting to prove in this article: An obligation is a moral requirement satisfying the following conditions: An obligation is a requirement generated by the performance of some voluntary act or omission.
This is contrasted with duties, which can exist without performing some special action. An obligation is owed by a specific person to a specific person or persons. Duties, by contrast, are owed by all people to everyone else. Every obligation that is generated establishes a corresponding right that is generated at the same time.
It is not the nature of the required act that generates the obligation, but rather the nature of the relationship between the obligor and the obligee. Just because an act is moral or praiseworthy does not make the act obligatory. Positional duties of this sort do not have moral weight.
To say that someone has a positional duty is to say that, because of some position that the agent is in, the agent is required to do something specified by that position.
But this says nothing about the nature of that position, which could be a Nazi guard who has a positional duty to aid in the extermination of Jews. If a positional duty is in fact morally binding, it is because of some other grounds for morality that is not related to the position.
Therefore, we do not have a duty to obey the government simply in virtue of the fact that we are citizens of that government; something else must explain this duty. Just because the legal obligation of a Nazi guard is to help exterminate Jews, this does not make murdering Jews morally justified.
Similarly, just because a particular institution exists and its rules apply to someone does not mean that they are morally bound to that institution. Tyrannical governments are not morally entitled to the support of those who live under them.
In this essay, I will not assume any particular moral theories are correct. Utilitarian deliberations can at times lead us to conclude that we are obligated to obey the government, but just as easily in other cases that we are not obligated to obey.
As such, there is no utilitarian approach to creating a moral requirement to support or comply with a given political institution. Any potential obligation is immediately superseded by concerns about utility.
A common concern that many people have with this result can be phrased as the question: This brings us to rule-utilitarianism, which stipulates that we ought to act in accordance with rules that, if generally adopted, would lead to the greatest utility.
But our decisions are somewhat independent of each other.
For instance, if I decide to become a math teacher, this seems fine. But what if everyone became a math teacher? To phrase it all as a rule: If disobedience to any law risks causing a collapse of social order, then the state, in making laws that are not necessary to maintaining social order and that are likely to be widely disobeyed, is itself threatening social order far more than a single individual who disobeys one of these laws.
Furthermore, asking the state to renounce its desire to make such unnecessary laws is more reasonable and less onerous than asking an individual to renounce his personal liberties. According to Huemer, it must satisfy the following five conditions: The great majority of individuals should have political obligations, and the state must be justified in using coercion against the majority of its citizens.
An account of political obligation should explain why citizens ought not to jaywalk because the state says so.Consent, Obligation, and the Social Contract: John Locke John Locke () Major English philosopher of the early Natural Law & Moral Theory The Emergence of Political Obligation So, for Locke (in contrast to Hobbes and Filmer), there is.
The term political obligation generally means a moral requirement to obey the laws of one’s country. Such a requirement must encompass more than self-interested or prudential considerations, especially concern that one will be punished for violations.
In political philosophy, the phrase consent of the governed refers to the idea that a government's legitimacy and moral right to use state power is only justified and lawful when consented to by the people or society over which that political power is exercised.
Locke, Rosseau, and the Idea of Consent an Inquiry Into the Liberal-Democratic Theory of Political Obligation. Jules Steinberg - Displacement and Gratitude: Accounting for the Political Obligation Author: Harry Beran. Remember: an act of consent must be a deliberate undertaking, otherwise any benefits that consent theory has for political obligations no longer exist.
People like Locke would argue that things like using public roads or voting, which imply consent, can be grounds for political obligations. IS CONSENT THE BASIS OF OBLIGATION? Political obligation is the obligation to obey the law because it is the law, rather than Locke developed a theory of ‘tacit’ consent, consent that is not actually spoken, but may be understood to have been given: Contract’ in Essays Moral, Political .