Obligation, Anarchy, and Exemption

Constitutional Commentary, Forthcoming

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2013-05

15 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2013 Last revised: 5 May 2013

See all articles by Micah Schwartzman

Micah Schwartzman

University of Virginia School of Law

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.

Suggested Citation

Schwartzman, Micah, Obligation, Anarchy, and Exemption (April 1, 2013). Constitutional Commentary, Forthcoming, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2013-05, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2256053

Micah Schwartzman (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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