Quick look at Yale 250?

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Quick look at Yale 250?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:11 pm

Do we have an obligation to obey the state? Reconciling state authority with individual autonomy is probably political theory’s most significant task, yet it appears impossible. Political obligation refers to a moral requirement not only to obey laws, but also to cooperate with the state by fulfilling duties such as voting. An obligation normally arises from an agreement, implicit or explicit, between two parties. If one consents to be bound by political duties in return for state benefits such as security, one has clearly entered into a special relationship with the state and has political obligations. Yet explicit commitments binding individuals to the state, for example oaths taken during the naturalization process, are rare. Furthermore, because benefits provided by the state are not excludable and one cannot move to a state-less territory, it is also implausible to argue that one has implicitly agreed to respect state authority by accepting those benefits.

Having failed to establish obligation through consent, one might turn to the principle of fairness, which postulates obligation because the benefits the state provides are both essential for living an acceptable life and worth a recipient’s efforts. Yet this is unconvincing because the utility of cooperation does not directly create an obligation if there is no individual alternative. It appears that categorical political obligations – moral requirements whose power stems from the state, not independent moral considerations – do not exist. Though we might agree that the state is justified, this problem of political obligation remains deeply troubling.

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Re: Quick look at Yale 250?

Postby broadstreet11 » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:50 pm

Can you critique mine in exchange? It's the next yale topic on the page (baseball).

I think it's a good topic and essay, so I'll critique to make it great. I really think you focus too much on the background and not enough on the substance of the issue. I felt like the essay ended a paragraph too soon. I wanted you to argue why the issue is troubling rather than just tell me. What are the consequences of the limbo status of obligation?

I would also work more on a compelling hook. I think that it is very standard of a philosophical essay to ask a question and answer it with the essay. Maybe describe a situation in which the obligation comes into question. Just something that could make you stand out from the many philosophy 250s they will read.

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