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Political Obligations$
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George Klosko

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256204

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199256209.001.0001

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Political Obligation and the Natural Duties of Justice

Political Obligation and the Natural Duties of Justice

Chapter:
(p.75) 4 Political Obligation and the Natural Duties of Justice
Source:
Political Obligations
Author(s):

George Klosko (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199256209.003.0004

In recent years, certain theorists, most notably John Rawls, have attempted to establish general political obligations based on so-called ‘natural duties of justice’. However, because natural duties are of limited force, they cannot ground political obligations, which may well require significant sacrifice. Natural duty theories confront a dilemma: either they will not be sufficiently strong to ground obligations, or if they are, they will not be ‘natural’ duties. In A Theory of Justice, Rawls's argument for a natural duty to support the state is flawed by running together arguments from behind and outside the veil of ignorance. Properly developed, behind the veil of ignorance, such a natural duty to support the state would be seen to be actually a variant of the principle of fairness. Because natural duties cannot establish adequate theories on their own, they can play a role in theories of political obligation only by working in conjunction with other principles.

Keywords:   natural duties of justice, political obligations, public goods, Rawls, samaritanism, veil of ignorance, Wellman

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