Political And Legal Obligation, Page 769

Front Cover
James Roland Pennock, John William Chapman
Transaction Publishers, 2017 - Political Science - 455 pages

At a point in history marked by dramatic challenges to the existing political and social order, the question of legal and political obligation emerges as a focal point of international concern. Amid the clamor for radical change in the established order, theories of political obligation demand renewed examination. In this volume, eighteen leading specialists in the legal, philosophical, and political science aspects of the question offer their views on this timely topic.

Part I examines the nature of moral, legal, and political obligation. The first essay presents a set of definitions that denies the very existence of obligation. While the second essay disagreeing particularly with respect to the relationship of political to moral tenets, and the third discussing the highly complex interplay between law and morality. The following essay approaches obligation as existing in the context of an established political and legal system and stresses the importance of evaluating the negative consequences of challenges to the law as well as those arising from the absence of challenges. The next paper maintains that political obligation is so complex that its very existence depends upon rational deliberation in particular contexts. The fifth, explores four significant theories but accepts only the one based on the broadest definition of obligation. While the final essay in this part considers political obligation a unique and generalized moral obligation.

Part II takes up the conditions of obligation and of obedience. The first essay in this part discusses the conditions necessary to generate a "felt obligation." The second paper, concentrates on exposing key obstacles to empirical proof that behavior is or is not motivated by "felt obligation." While the third draws upon a large body of literature and court decisions dealing with compliance to the law. The forth essay is a case study of Rome probes the role of obligation during that city's seven centuries of existence without a police force, and the ultimate breakdown of the system. Against the background of the thinking of Hobbes, Hume, Rousseau, and particularly Aristotle, the final essay in this section propounds the theory that any specific form of government has a direct bearing on the obedience of those governed.

Part III highlights ethical considerations that arise out of civil disobedience. The first essay proposes a rather restrictive definition of civil disobedience, and then embarks on a surprising examination of his subject in the light of the traditional arguments for "just war." Following that a broader examination of disobedience, emphasizing a contextual approach and applying as a test the likelihood of public good that will result from disobedience is explained in the second paper. The third, points out the inadequacy of many traditional tests and definitions of civil disobedience, and warns against possible oversimplification that conceals significant issues that warrant exposition. While the forth evolves a theory that limits the obligation of alienated residents. Immediately following this the next essay explores civil disobedience in the unusual context of the totalitarian regime. In the final chapter, the essays consider the ideas and thought of Gandhi and their relevance to Western politics.

Scholars and students in the areas of law, philosophy, and political science will find this volume a vital addition to their libraries..

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 205 - No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States...
Page xvii - Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in primers, spelling books, and in almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation...
Page 211 - In prohibiting that deprivation the Constitution does not recognize an absolute and uncontrollable liberty. Liberty in each of its phases has its history and connotation. But the liberty safeguarded is liberty in a social organization which requires the protection of law against the evils which menace the health, safety, morals, and welfare of the people. Liberty under the Constitution is thus necessarily subject to the restraints of due process, and regulation which is reasonable in relation to...
Page 269 - ... no obligation on any man, which ariseth not from some act of his own; for all men equally are by nature free.
Page 190 - He that hath a trade, hath an estate; and he that hath a calling, hath an office of profit and honour," as Poor Richard says; but then the trade must be worked at, and the calling well followed, or neither the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes — If we are industrious, we shall never* starve; for, " at the working man's house hunger looks in, but dares not enter.
Page 211 - What is this freedom? The Constitution does not speak of freedom of contract. It speaks of liberty and prohibits the deprivation of liberty without due process of law.
Page xv - This legislative is not only the supreme power of the commonwealth, but sacred and unalterable in the hands where the community have once placed it. Nor can any edict of anybody else, in what form soever conceived, or by what power soever backed, have the force and obligation of a law which has not its sanction from that legislative which the public has chosen and appointed ; for without this the law could not have that which is absolutely necessary to its being a law, the consent of the society,...
Page xix - I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. No constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.
Page 295 - Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Bibliographic information