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Associative Responsibilities and Political Obligation



In this paper I criticise an influential version of associative theory of political obligation and I offer a reformulation of the theory in ‘quasi-voluntarist’ terms. I argue that although unable by itself to solve the problem of political obligation, my quasi-voluntarist associative model can play an important role in solving this problem. Moreover, the model teaches us an important methodological lesson about the way in which we should think about the question of political obligation. Finally, I suggest that the quasi-voluntarist associative model is particularly attractive because it manages to combine the main thrust of the traditional associative view with the most attractive feature of transactional theories, while avoiding at the same time the main problems that afflict each of these two approaches.