Res Publica

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 173–188 | Cite as

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

Article
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Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Prof. John Horton and Prof. Glen Newey, as well as two anonymous referees from Res Publica, for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Foundation Year CentreKeele UniversityKeeleUK

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