Political Obligation Seminar

PLPT 802                                                                                                 G. Klosko

Political Obligation                                                                        248-B Cabell; x3092

Fall 2003                                                                                         gk@virginia.edu


The following books have been ordered at the University Bookstore and are on reserve

in Clemons Library.  All articles and shorter readings are on reserve on line on the class

toolkit page.


  1. Locke, Two Treatises of Government(Cambridge, paperback).
  2. Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia(Basic Books, paperback).
  3. J. Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations (Princeton, paperback).


I have also ordered a few copies of:

  1. Rawls, A Theory of Justice(Harvard, paperback).



  1. I. Introductory: Political Obligation and Reflective Equilibrium


Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations, Chaps.      1‑2.


Rawls, A Theory of Justice (first ed.), pp. 19‑21, 46‑53, 578‑86; (second

ed., pp.  17-19, 40-46, 506-13).


  1. Daniels, “Wide Reflective Equilibrium and Theory Acceptance in Ethics,” Journal

 of Philosophy, 76 (1979).


  1. Jamieson, “Method and Moral Theory,” in A Companion to Ethics, P.

Singer, ed.


  1. Green, “Who Believes in Political Obligations?” in Justifying the State,
  2. Sanders  and J. Narveson, eds.



  1. II. Consent Theories of Political Obligation


Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government.


Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations, Chaps. 3‑4.


  1. Pitkin, “Obligation and Consent, I” American PoliticalScience Review,

59 (1965).


  1. Waldron, “Theoretical Foundations of Liberalism,” Philosophical Quarterly, 37 (1987).


  1. Walzer, “Political Alienation and Military Service,” in Obligations(Cambridge,

Mass., 1970).


  1. Klosko “Reformist Consent and Political Obligation,” Political Studies, 39 (1991), 676‑90.



III. The “Conceptual Argument”


  1. Pitkin, “Obligation and Consent, II” American Political Science Review, 60 (1966).



  1. IV. Nozick: Invisible Hand Explanations


Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Chaps. 1‑7.



  1. Consequentialist Theories


Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Sec. 5.


Rawls, “Two Concepts of Rules,” Philosophical Review, 64 (1955).


  1. Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science, 162 (1968).


  1. Parfit, Reasons and Persons, pp. 53‑86.


  1. McMahon, “Autonomy and Authority,” Philosophy and PublicAffairs, 16 (1987),



  1. Klosko, “Parfit’s Moral Arithmetic and the Obligation to Obey the Law,” Canadian 

          Journal of Philosophy, 20 (1990).



  1. VI. The Argument from Gratitude


Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations, Chap. 7.


  1. D. M. Walker,  “Political Obligation and the Argument from Gratitude,” Philosophy

and Public Affairs, 17 (1988).



VII. The Natural Duty of Justice


Rawls, Theory of Justice, Secs. 1‑9, 11, 19, 24‑6, 51‑53.


Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations, Chaps. 6, 8.


  1. Senor, “What If There Are No Political Obligations?” Philosophy and Public

Affairs, 16 (1987).


Simmons, “The Anarchist Position: A Reply to Klosko and Senor,” Philosophy and

Public Affairs, 16 (1987).


  1. Wellman, “Toward a Liberal Theory of Political Obligation,” Ethics, 111 (2001).


Klosko, “”Political Obligation and the Natural Duties of Justice,”  Philosophy and

Public Affairs, 23 (1994), 251-70.



VIII. The Principle of Fairness


  1. Strang, “What If Everyone Did That?” Durham University Journal, 53 (1960).


Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, pp. 90‑95.


Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations, Chap. 5.


Klosko, “Presumptive Benefit, Fairness, and Political Obligation,” Philosophy and

Public Affairs, 16 (1987).


Simmons, “The Anarchist Position: A Reply to Klosko and Senor,” Philosophy and

Public Affairs, 16 (1987).


Klosko, “The Obligation to Contribute to Discretionary Public Goods,” Political Studies, 38



Simmons, “Consent, Obligation, and Anarchy,” from On the Edge of Anarchy.


Klosko, “The Natural Basis of Political Obligation,” Social Philosophy and Policy,

18 (2001), 93-114.


Simmons, “Fair Play and Political Obligation: Twenty Years Later,”  from Justification

and Legitimacy.



  1. IX. “Associative Obligations”


  1. Dworkin, Law’s Empire, pp. 190-216.


  1. Gilbert, “Group Membership and Political Obligation,” Monist, 76 (1993).


  1. Horton, Political Obligation, Chap. 6.


  1. J. Simmons, “Associative Political Obligations,” Ethics, 106 (1996).





Aside from doing the reading and discussing it, there are three formal requirements.


  1. Paper of approximately 20 pages, either critical or literature evaluation.


You are also required to make two in class presentations:


  1. Present one of the readings, and be prepared to lead discussion of it. You should

choose an article or single chapter (or other discrete section) of a book. The presentation

should be in the 20‑30 minute range. In addition to presenting the piece’s main ideas, you

should also raise interesting points.


  1. Presentation of paper: in the twenty‑five minute range.