The Duty to Obey the Law

PLPT 424                                                                                                                            G. Klosko

The Duty to Obey the Law                                                                                248-B Cabell; x3092

Spring 2003                                                                                                     


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.


  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, J. 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 Political Science 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 Public Affairs, 16 (1987), 315-19.


  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



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

Affairs, 16 (1987).


  1. Waldron, “Special Ties and Natural Duties,” Philosophy and Public Affairs,  22 (1993).


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).


Rawls, “Legal Obligation and the Duty of Fair Play,” in S. Hook, ed., Law and Philosophy.


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., pp.


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 written requirements.


  1. 1Optional midtermand final examinations.


  1. 2Analytical paper, 12-15pages; due Wednesday, 23 April.  Papers must be handed in on

time.  Late papers will be penalized.  Incompletes will not be given.


Grading: If you choose to do the midterm, it will count 25% of your grade, with paper and final exam

each counting 37.5%.  If you do not do the midterm, paper and final exam will  count 50% each.  Class participation will figure in on top of this, with good participation

significantly helping your grade.