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Communal Ties and Political Obligations


  • Dorota Mokrosinska

    1. University of Amsterdam, Department of Philosophy, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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    • I would like to thank Govert den Hartogh for many discussions on the topic; Janos Kis for valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper; an anonymous reviewer for helpful suggestions.


The associative argument for political obligation has taken an important place in the debate on political obligation. Proponents of this view argue that an obligation to obey the government arises out of ties of affiliation among individuals who share the same citizenship. According to them, relationships between compatriots constitute basic reasons for action in the same way in which relationships between family members or friends do. As critics point out, this account of the normative force of relationships has counterintuitive implications: if relationships between people sharing the same citizenship make up basic reasons for action, then relationships between people sharing other attributes, for example, relationships between racists or sexists form basic reasons for action too. In this essay, I pursue a modified version of the associative approach that is not vulnerable to this objection.