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State Authority without a Duty to Obey: Challenging the Assumption of Correlativity between Legitimate Authority and Political Obligation

Dates:
  • Mon 25 Jan 2021 16.00 - 18.00
  Add to Calendar 2021-01-25 16:00 2021-01-25 18:00 Europe/Paris State Authority without a Duty to Obey: Challenging the Assumption of Correlativity between Legitimate Authority and Political Obligation

When analysing the moral relationship between the state and its subjects, the majority of scholars subscribe to the principle of correlativity . This is the belief that the state’s political legitimacy and a citizen’s moral duty to obey the law are correlative: if one is established, the other is as well. The aim of this thesis is to challenge the assumption of correlativity. I do this by showing that the legitimacy of the state is not dependent on the existence of a general moral duty to obey the law on part of the state’s subjects.

Three distinct interpretations of the correlativity principle may be identified in the literature: one logical interpretation and two substantive interpretations. Against the first, I argue that state authority should not be understood as a claim-right to rule, but as a moral power possessed by the state. Against the substantive interpretations, I argue that political obligation is neither sufficient nor necessary to justify state authority. Firstly, the moral duty to obey the law may be thought to arise even in states which actions and conduct clearly are not morally justified. Secondly, the state’s right to issue and enforce law may be explained without reference to a general moral duty to obey the law on part of the subject.

Having rejected the correlativity principle in both its logical and substantive interpretations, I sketch a theory of legitimate state authority, one that does not rely on the moral duty to obey the law for its justification. I argue that legitimate state authority both represents a minimum threshold to be reached, defined by the state’s protection of basic rights for all, and an ideal to which actual states should strive through the balancing and furthering of individual claims to freedom.

This thesis defence will be held online via Zoom.

The Zoom link will be shared with registered participants the same morning of the defence at 11.00.

Outside EUI premises - DD/MM/YYYY
  Outside EUI premises -

When analysing the moral relationship between the state and its subjects, the majority of scholars subscribe to the principle of correlativity . This is the belief that the state’s political legitimacy and a citizen’s moral duty to obey the law are correlative: if one is established, the other is as well. The aim of this thesis is to challenge the assumption of correlativity. I do this by showing that the legitimacy of the state is not dependent on the existence of a general moral duty to obey the law on part of the state’s subjects.

Three distinct interpretations of the correlativity principle may be identified in the literature: one logical interpretation and two substantive interpretations. Against the first, I argue that state authority should not be understood as a claim-right to rule, but as a moral power possessed by the state. Against the substantive interpretations, I argue that political obligation is neither sufficient nor necessary to justify state authority. Firstly, the moral duty to obey the law may be thought to arise even in states which actions and conduct clearly are not morally justified. Secondly, the state’s right to issue and enforce law may be explained without reference to a general moral duty to obey the law on part of the subject.

Having rejected the correlativity principle in both its logical and substantive interpretations, I sketch a theory of legitimate state authority, one that does not rely on the moral duty to obey the law for its justification. I argue that legitimate state authority both represents a minimum threshold to be reached, defined by the state’s protection of basic rights for all, and an ideal to which actual states should strive through the balancing and furthering of individual claims to freedom.

This thesis defence will be held online via Zoom.

The Zoom link will be shared with registered participants the same morning of the defence at 11.00.


Location:
Outside EUI premises -

Affiliation:
Department of Law

Type:
Thesis defence

Co-Supervisor:
Prof. Luís Duarte d’Almeida (University of Edinburgh)

Contact:
Francesca Grassini (EUI - LAW Department) - Send a mail
Miriam Boussairi (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences) - Send a mail

Examiner:
Prof. Richard Bellamy (EUI - Max Weber Programme)
Prof. William Edmundson (Georgia State University)

Supervisor:
Prof. Giovanni Sartor (EUI - Law Department)

Defendant:
Lene Kirstine Korseberg

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