Principle of Fairness in Political Obligations

6567 words 27 pages
Political Science-II

Political Obligations and
Issues of Fair Play: A Critical Analysis

Submitted By:
Abhishek Choudhary (2034)

Table of Contents

Modern theories in the pursuit of explaining the provenance of political obligations tend to display a warranted skepticism of traditional consent theories. Twentieth century political philosophers expended much of their energy in drawing attention to the utter absurdity of such theories by attacking the idea that citizens in nation-states undertake obligations as a result of deliberate consensual acts, a premise not very hard to disprove. This lack of coherence provided by traditional theories on political obligations have compelled theorists
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The rules may provide that officials should have authority to en- force obedience . . . but the moral obligation to obey the rules in such circumstances is due to the cooperating members of the society, and they have the correlative moral right to obedience.”4
“While Hart does not refer to this source of special rights and obligations in the exact terms of fairness or fair play, he does note later that "in the case of mutual restrictions we are in fact saying that this claim to interfere with another's freedom is justified because it is fair."5 We can understand him, then, to be claiming that, in the situation described, a beneficiary has an obligation to "do his fair share" by submitting to the rules when they require it; others who have cooperated before have a right to this fair distribution of the burdens of sub- mission.6”

“What the principle of fair play holds, then, is that everyone who participates in a reasonably just, mutually beneficial cooperative practice — Hart's “joint enterprise according to rules” — has an obligation to bear a fair share of the burdens of the practice. This obligation is owed to the others who cooperate in the enterprise, for cooperation is what makes it possible for any individual to enjoy the benefits of the practice. Anyone who acts as a


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