Allegiance and Lawful Government

Jeffrie G. Murphy

Arizona State University College of Law


Ethics, Vol. 79, pp. 56-69, 1968

This article addresses the difficult concepts behind the descriptions of a legitimate government and a merely de facto government. It examines and criticizes R.M. Hare’s venture into this difficult area, and attempts to map these concepts in a way that will explain why it is that claims involving them are indeed puzzling. It concludes that though legitimacy claims are moral claims, they are a special kind of moral claim. They are claims about pedigree rather than content, and once they are understood in this way, we can see that they have a venerable history. However, just because legitimacy claims are, in involving pedigree concepts, in many important ways like legal claims, we should not conclude that they therefore are legal claims. In this way, legal positivism enshrines a deeper respect for morality in this area than the theories of its critics.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 14

Keywords: Legitimacy of Government, Philosophy of Law, John Locke

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Date posted: September 10, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Murphy, Jeffrie G., Allegiance and Lawful Government (1968). Ethics, Vol. 79, pp. 56-69, 1968. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1469727

Contact Information

Jeffrie G. Murphy (Contact Author)
Arizona State University College of Law ( email )
Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
(480) 965-5856 (Phone)
(480) 965-2427 (Fax)
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