The Service Conception: Just One Simple Question
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It is crystal clear that the Service Conception includes at least three conditions, what I shall call: the ‘normal justification condition’, the ‘independence condition’ and the ‘dependence condition’. The overarching rationale of these conditions is that they ensure that authority is only justified when it provides the best means for the subject to conform to the reasons for action that she actually has. However, it is difficult to clarify whether Raz implicitly presupposes a fourth necessary condition. This condition might be called a ‘reliable belief condition’, that is, that the putative subject must reliably believe that the putative authority-agent satisfies the Service Conception (or more precisely, its other three conditions). In sum, the purpose of this paper is to pose Joseph Raz one simple question: is it a necessary condition of your Service Conception, that the subject believes that the authority-agent satisfies the Service Conception? As a matter of interpretation, different parts of Raz’s work appear to lead in entirely opposite directions: some parts clearly support the reliable belief condition, others do not. Regardless of Raz’s ultimate answer, however, the question reveals a broader inconsistency. Only if the Service Conception does include the belief condition will it support Raz’s claim that authority is consistent with one’s rational ‘self-reliance’, that is, acting upon one’s own judgement (including, as to who has authority). Only if the Service Conception does not include the belief condition will it support Raz’s perfectionist account of government. It seems Raz must choose between one or other.
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