In Defence of Associative Political Obligations: Part Two



This article continues the defence of associative political obligations begun in Part One. It does so by sketching an argument that supports commonplace ideas about our having a special, ethical relationship with the polity of which we are members. The argument begins by showing how non-voluntary groups in general can have value, and then seeks to identify the generic good of a polity: that good is the provision of order and security. While this is a necessary condition of associative political obligations, it is not sufficient. It needs to be supplemented by an argument explaining why we have obligations to the particular polity of which we are members. This ‘associative’ argument has two sides to it. The first explains how membership of a polity is for most people something like an ascribed status; that is, an identity or role that a person is taken to occupy without having chosen it. The second suggests how, through a process of identification, we incorporate membership within our self-understanding. The article concludes with some brief remarks about anarchism and why political obligation matters.