Res Publica

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 173-188

First online:

Law Without Legitimacy or Justification? The Flawed Foundations of Philosophical Anarchism

  • Ryan Gabriel WindeknechtAffiliated withFoundation Year Centre, Keele University Email author 

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In this article, I examine A. John Simmons’s philosophical anarchism, and specifically, the problems that result from the combination of its three foundational principles: the strong correlativity of legitimacy rights and political obligations; the strict distinction between justified existence and legitimate authority; and the doctrine of personal consent, more precisely, its supporting assumptions about the natural freedom of individuals and the non-natural states into which individuals are born. As I argue, these assumptions, when combined with the strong correlativity and strict distinction theses, undermine Simmons’s claim, which is central to his philosophical anarchism, that a state may be justified in enforcing the law, even if illegitimate or unjustified in existing.


A. John Simmons Philosophical anarchism Political obligation Rights and obligations Justification and legitimacy