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Abstract

A controversy in political philosophy and applied ethics concerns the validity of duty-imposing powers, that is, rights entitling one person to impose new duties on others without their consent. Many philosophers have criticized as unplausible any such moral right, in particular that of appropriating private property unilaterally. Some, finding duty-imposing powers weird, unfamiliar or baseless, have argued that principles of justified acquisition should be rejected; others have required them to satisfy exacting criteria. I investigate the many ways in which we regularly impose duties on one another without prior consent. I show that doing so is not weird, and I offer criteria which demarcate the reasonable from the worrisome aspects of duty-imposing powers.