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The Problem of Justification of Political Obligations. A Civic Solidarity Argument

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Problems related to political obligations and their justification have been increasingly brought up by various kinds of normative reflection on politics in philosophy (A. John Simmons, Andrew Mason, George Klosko). It seems that one of the reasons – though most certainly not the only one – why philosophers are interested in the problem of political obligations of citizens of liberal democratic societies is the recognized crisis of the quality of participation in public institutions.

In the current policy of democratic states, participation is essentially realized in the paradigm of instrumental rationality, rarely communicative rationality (civil society/NGO's).

In my article, I am going to discuss the issue of justification of political obligations. The main focus will be on the reconstruction of civic solidarity argumentation.

I am going to look for arguments in the tradition of modern civic republicanism, in works by such scholars as Cass Sunstein, Charles Taylor and Andrzej Walicki reflection on patriotism.

This selection seems particularly fitting in view of the fact that republicanism not only emphasises the importance of solidarity – based deliberative activity of citizens for political order in the republic, but is currently experiencing a renewed interest of scholars – caused by the emergence of the information society which discards the traditional republican belief that a system based on active participation can only function effectively on small territories, e.g. on the level of cities, regions, considering it a relic of the past.

Political obligations are usually understood as obligations stemming from different social roles or voluntary duties assumed by citizens. They are usually taken to include at least the obligation to obey the laws of the Land and are often thought to include also further obligations of loyalty and “good citizenship”. Political obligations are moral obligations of citizens to support and comply with the requirements of their political authorities and the problem of political obligation is that of understanding why (if at all) citizens in various types of states are bound by such obligations.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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  • Values and Norms in the Age of Globalization
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