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Political LegitimacyNOMOS LXI$
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Jack Knight and Melissa Schwartzberg

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479888696

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479888696.001.0001

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The Sovereign and the Republic a

The Sovereign and the Republic a

Republican View of Political Obligation

Chapter:
(p.102) 4 The Sovereign and the Republic a
Source:
Political Legitimacy
Author(s):

Ekow N. Yankah

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479888696.003.0005

Philosophically, we live in a liberal age, one that accords individual rights primacy of place among political values. Accordingly, contemporary conceptions of political and legal obligation treat sovereignty as perplexing, straining to justify how authority can impose on individual freedom and obligate one to obey law.  From Hobbes to Kant to Rawls, liberal thinkers have had to stitch together a civic sovereign from the free will of each individual. As against the machinations required to justify sovereignty beginning from the liberal premise of individual freedom, I suggest a fundamental reexamining of liberal freedom.  In its place, I will argue for a return to a classic conception of Athenian or Aristotelian republicanism as the basis of political obligation. Reigning for perhaps millennia, yet strangely absent from contemporary theory, the ancient view argues that political obligation is based on our natural and unavoidable interconnectedness.  Aristotle’s persuasive arguments that human beings need political communities to survive and flourish, now fortified by modern social science, illustrates why sovereignty is not a puzzle but rather a natural extension of our civic interconnectedness and gives rise to political obligation.

Keywords:   Aristotle, republicanism, justification, authority, political obligation, sovereignty, freedom

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