Practical Authority and Self-Knowledge
Forthcoming in Green and Leiter (eds), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law, Vol. 4
28 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2021
Date Written: January 14, 2021
This paper develops an account of practical authority with a view to understanding how and why obeying authority has long been thought to be problematic. I argue that while an authoritative directive may provide a reason for action to a subject, as has been widely assumed, it also supplies the content of an intention to act. In this sense, an authority is the author of the content of a subject’s ‘practical knowledge,’ the knowledge with which the subject acts when obeying. As a consequence, under modestly idealized conditions, the person in authority has knowledge of the mind of the obedient subject in a way that breaks down the self-other asymmetries the subject has to her own mind vis-à-vis others, the sort of asymmetries which philosophers have taken as central to the concept of personhood.
Keywords: authority, knowledge, self-knowledge, avowal, Raz, Anscombe, Moran, reasons, anarchism
JEL Classification: K10, K00, K30, K40, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation