Against Philosophical Anarchism

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Abstract

Philosophical anarchists claim that all states lack political authority and are illegitimate, but that some states are nevertheless morally justified and should not be abolished. I argue that philosophical anarchism is either incoherent or collapses into either statism or political anarchism.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The power to impose duties is not what is sometimes called a ‘side-effect power’, of course, but a power that creates content-independent reasons for action.

  2. 2.

    Copp 1999; Perry 2005; Applbaum 2010; Enoch 2014.

  3. 3.

    Joseph Raz argues that states have different degrees of authority over different citizens (1986: 73–74, 100, 103).

  4. 4.

    Wolff 1970, p. 18.

  5. 5.

    Simmons 1993, p. 247; Green 1988, p. 185.

  6. 6.

    Adams 2018.

  7. 7.

    Simmons 1999, p. 125.

  8. 8.

    Simmons 1996, p. 112, see 1993, p. 261, 1999, pp. 136–137; cf. Green 1988, pp. 241–242.

  9. 9.

    Simmons 1993, p. 268, see 1979, p. 194, 1999, p. 137.

  10. 10.

    Simmons discusses (and rejects) a slightly different version of philosophical anarchism, according to which people have an obligation to oppose illegitimate states, but a very weak one that is easily overridden in states that are justifiable or act justifiably (1996, pp. 109, 111–112).

  11. 11.

    Simmons 1987, p. 279, 1996, pp. 115, 118, 2005, p. 191, see 1993, p. 268, 2016, ch. 2.

  12. 12.

    Raz 1979, ch. 14; Green 1988, pp. 263–267; cf. Simmons 1979, p. 193, 1996, p. 118.

  13. 13.

    Simmons 1999, p. 156, see 1987, p. 276, 1993, pp. 264–265, 1999, p. 155, 2005, p. 192.

  14. 14.

    Simmons 2005, p. 192.

  15. 15.

    Windeknecht 2012, pp. 183–185; Wendt 2018, pp. 107–108.

  16. 16.

    Smith 1973, p. 976; Ladenson 1980; Sartorius 1981; Wellman 1996; Edmundson 1998; Morris 1998, ch. 4, 2005; Buchanan 2002; Garthoff 2010; Zhu 2017.

  17. 17.

    Simmons 1999, p. 156.

  18. 18.

    Simmons 1987, p. 278.

  19. 19.

    Simmons 1987, p. 279, 1993, p. 265.

  20. 20.

    Simmons 1987, p. 278.

  21. 21.

    Waldron 1981; Enoch 2002.

  22. 22.

    Simmons 1999, pp. 137–139.

  23. 23.

    Green 1988, pp. 255–263.

  24. 24.

    Buchanan 2002, p. 697.

  25. 25.

    Simmons 1979, pp. 199–200.

  26. 26.

    Green comes close to conceding this when he accepts a notion of legitimacy that does not require that all citizens have a duty to obey, but only most citizens. He still speaks of ‘legitimate authority’ (1988, pp. 246–247) or ‘justified authority’ (1988, p. 240).

  27. 27.

    Green 1988, p. 239.

  28. 28.

    Senor 1987, pp. 263–264.

  29. 29.

    Wellman 2005, p. 27.

  30. 30.

    Wendt 2015, pp. 328–332, 2018, pp. 105–106.

  31. 31.

    Of course we end up with political anarchism only if states really do not have political authority: The battle is between the first version of statism and political anarchism, if the moral worries about states without political authority are very serious. If the moral worries about states without political authority are not that serious, then all is fine with the second version of statism (according to which states do not need political authority to count as legitimate).

  32. 32.

    I thank Bas van der Vossen for suggesting this.

  33. 33.

    These spheres are not identical with the distinction between deontological versus consequentialist reasoning. Moral worries about agents may have to do with the consequences such agents tend to bring about; moral worries about actions may have to do with deontic principles.

  34. 34.

    Simmons 1999, p. 130.

  35. 35.

    I thank Tim Henning for suggesting this.

  36. 36.

    Simmons 1996, p. 103.

  37. 37.

    For helpful comments and discussions, I thank audiences at Chapman University and the University of Stuttgart as well as Nate Adams, Matthias Brinkmann, Bas van der Vossen, Federico Zuolo, and several anonymous reviewers.

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Wendt, F. Against Philosophical Anarchism. Law and Philos 39, 527–544 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10982-020-09377-4

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