By Robert Paul Wolff
An research of the rules of the authority of the nation and the issues of political authority and ethical autonomy in a democracy.
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Extra info for In Defense of Anarchism (with a New Preface)
We may ask, for example, whether there are any moral principles which ought to guide the state in its lawmaking, such as the principle of utilit arianism, and under what conditions it is right for the individual to obey the laws. We may explore the social ideals of equality and achievement, or the principles of punishment, or the justi fications for war. All such investigations are essentially ap plications of general moral principles to the particular phenomena of ( de facto ) politics. Hence, it would be ap propriate to reclaim a word which has fallen on bad days, and call that branch of the study of politics casuistical politics Since there are men who acknowledge claims to authority, there are de fac to states.
This point is so simple that it may seem unworthy of such emphasis. Nevertheless, a number of political philosophers, including Hobbes and John Austin, have supposed that the concept as well as the pfinciples of authority could be derived from the concepts of power or utility. For example, Austin defines a command as a sig. nification of desire, uttered by someone who will visit evil on those who do not comply with it ( The Providence of Jurisprudence Deter. mined, Lecture I) . 12 In Defense of Anarchism mains to be decided whether political philosophy proper exists.
Edge its authority, for who would speak of "cheating" a thief ? that it also bases itself on the notion of authority ("imperative co· ordination") • The Conflict Between Authority and Autonomy 5 To claim authority is t� claim the right to be obeyed. To have authority is then-what ? It may mean to have that right, or it may mean to have one's claim acknowledged and accepted by those at whom it is directed. The term "authority" is ambiguous, having both a descriptive and a normative sense. Even the descriptive sense refers to norms or o �ligations, of course, but it does so by describing what men believe they ought to do rather than by asserting that they ought to do it.