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Political Authority and Obligation in Aristotle$
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Andres Rosler

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251506

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199251509.001.0001

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The Limits of Political Obligation

The Limits of Political Obligation

(p.219) 7 The Limits of Political Obligation
Political Authority and Obligation in Aristotle

Andres Rosler

Oxford University Press

Aristotle’s philosophy of law does not make sense if read as a plea for, or as taking for granted, unconditional political obligation. To be sure, he subscribes to the view that some unjust laws are to be put up with in the face of the consequences of disobedience for the common good. But this should not prevent us from seeing that Aristotle does defend the view not only that government is limited but also that there is a right of resistance against oppression. Aristotle’s discussion of citizenship in terms of parts and wholes, Spartan constitutional law, and tyranny reveals that he is more than willing to acknowledge that, in some cases, the very failure of political authority in fulfilling its morally justified tasks releases citizens from their duty to obey the government.

Keywords:   holism, obedience, right of resistance, Sparta, totalitarianism, tyranny

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