Teleological Theories

  • John Horton
Part of the Issues in Political Theory book series


In the preceding chapter we considered and largely rejected one broad category of accounts of political obligation. In this chapter a very different type of account will be the subject of attention. Whereas voluntarist theories seek to justify political obligation in terms of some putative voluntary undertaking by the person obligated — a specific utterance or sequence of actions — which puts the person under the obligation, the theories discussed in this chapter approach political obligation from a different perspective. These theories seek to explain political obligation by looking to the future rather than to past actions, and by looking to the likely consequences or the purposes of the obligation, rather than to some obligation-creating voluntary commitment. These theories are classified as teleological because they explain political obligation in terms of some goal, end or purpose, a telos, which provides the moral ground or justification of this obligation. Political obligation within teleological theories characteristically derives from a general requirement to act in a manner which will bring about the best possible state of affairs.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© John Horton 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Horton
    • 1
  1. 1.University of YorkUK

Personalised recommendations