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Moral Writings$
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H. A. Prichard and Jim MacAdam

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199250197.001.0001

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Green: Political Obligation

Green: Political Obligation

Chapter:
(p.226) 10. Green: Political Obligation
Source:
Moral Writings
Author(s):

H. A. Prichard

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199250197.003.0010

Analyses Green's rather obscure treatment of two important questions: (1) ‘Why does a subject have the duty to obey the ruler or sovereign?’; and (2) ‘Why is the receipt of an order backed by a threat sufficient to establish this duty when the order comes from a ruler?’ Prichard considers Green's position regarding the grounds and justification for obedience to law to be part of a larger theory of moral obligation that is inconsistent with our ordinary moral ideas. To Green's seeming denial of the existence of any natural rights or duties, Prichard responds that Green in fact has failed to state a sense in which there really are natural rights and obligations. Moreover, Green's denial that we can answer the question ‘Why ought we to obey the government?’ can be formulated only by maintaining the existence of an obligation independent of our government's commands. The core of truth in Green's position, according to Prichard, lies in his recognition that a factor necessary to secure obedience is the subject's unselfish interest in the welfare of other members of her community.

Keywords:   duty, Green, interest, natural right, obedience, obey, obligation, order, ruler, welfare

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