Political Authority, Moral Powers and the Intrinsic Value of Obedience

William A. Edmundson

3 conclusions:

(i) the state claims to possess a moral power to subject citizens to duties of obedience, but non-consent apologies can at best deliver a ‘side-effect’ power

(ii) consent theories of political authority aspire to justify one moral power by appeal to another, but they encounter familiar objections;

(iii) if authority is a moral power─as the state at least implicitly claims─its justification will have to portray obedience as intrinsically valuabe.


1. Political Authority as Moral Power

Side-effect→ moral effect not moral power→ the distinction between two types of reason for action→ intrinsic & non-intrinsic reason.

2. Moral Powers Distinguished From Side-effect Powers

  Indications of an exercise of a moral power:

  A. Purposive, Never Inadvertent


Moral Power:舉手示意通過

  B. Content Independent, not dependent

Side-effect:give content-independent reason

Moral Power:dependent reason

  C. Small-error-tolerant, Not Intolerant

Side-effect:exercising for reason→ normally for further some end

Ex. Jogging before breakfast for morale (command), so rainy day? Still follow command→ No morale (small error).

C-I: 無論有無其他贊成或反對理由而實踐

Small-error-tolerant: 無限制條件時,即使目的無效率或不達仍實踐

  D. Direct, Not Indirect

Side-effect:illocutionary 以言行事

Moral Power:perlocutionary 以言成事

3. Moral Powers and Intrinsic Reason for Action

  Non-intrinsic Reason:

        Instrumental reason→ 本身無價值,但能引出有價值sth. valuable itself

        Epistemic reason→ a fact, 使型隊者知道這麼做能完成或引出他有intrinsic reason 去做的事。

  Intrinsic Reason:



        ※賦予行動intrinsic reason之能力( Moral Power之意義)→ C-I→ M.P.所擁有

        ※服從之intrinsic reason為Small-error-tolerant(著眼於實行與服從之間的結果)於duties的解釋→ M.P.之產物

4. Restating the Problem of Political Obligation

  Political authority→ M.P.

  M.P.→ 使人尊重I.R.,可解釋&似是而非→ 法律規定可理解

         John Rawls:「人士有效宣爭之自我組成來源」→ 自我組成來源這個I.R.使他人因你身為人而尊重你

      → 使人尊重non-intrinsic reason不可理解

         non-intrinsic reason是provisional reason(臨時理由)

         └epistemic reason:可被更高的epistemic reason取代

         └instrumental reason:承諾賦予的I.R.不因工具價值改變而消失

      → 然而,我們經常使人尊重non-intrinsic reason

         non-intrinsic reason創造了fact→ fact 賦予新義務,但非來自M.P.

         └epistemic reason:可被更高的epistemic reason取代

      → 使人尊重intrinsic reason對同意理論的解釋有幫助


                 但通常人不會同意受苦難→ side-effect power again

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