Download Political Obligation by John Horton (auth.) PDF

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By John Horton (auth.)

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First, it is clearly parasitic upon the theory of 'personal consent', since a majority must personally consent and this has already been found to be an untenable claim. Second, it is necessary to give some account of how a majority, could morally bind a minority who have not consented and it is not easy to see how this is to be done. Third, supposing that 40 Political Obligation some such account is offered, the 'majority consent' theory could not be regarded as a fully voluntarist account of political obligation since it would entail that the minority could be morally bound without their consent, and even against their will.

The second and third objections could be met if there were some prior agreement of all to be bound by majority decisions, but then this prior agreement would itself be subject to the same objections as those made earlier to personal consent theories. Thus neither the doctrine of 'historical consent' nor that of 'majority consent' looks remotely attractive as an alternative to 'personal consent'. Indeed both theories are either parasitic upon. 'personal consent', and hence open to the same objections as 'personal consent' theories, or are not genuinely voluntarist at all.

Locke, like Hobbes before him, explained the origin of political obligation in a contract made in a pre-political state of nature. However, Locke's conception of the state of nature is considerably more benign than that of Hobbes, and the process by which political authority is instituted is more complicated. According to Locke, political authority arose in two stages: first through a unanimous contract to form political society, and then by a majority decision to entrust a government with legislative, executive and judicial powers.

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