Obligation, Anarchy, and Exemption
Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2013-05
15 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2013 Last revised: 5 May 2013
Date Written: April 1, 2013
This is a review of Abner Greene's Against Obligation: The Multiple Sources of Authority in a Liberal Democracy (2012). I begin by summarizing Greene's arguments against political obligation and in favor of a remedial theory of legal exemptions. I suggest that despite Greene's claims to the contrary, he is committed to philosophical anarchism, which holds that actually existing states are politically illegitimate and that citizens have no general duty to obey the law. I then argue that philosophical anarchism does not explain various examples of religious accommodation that Greene claims are justified according to his theory. More conventional arguments based on freedom and equality may be better suited to justify exemptions in such cases.
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