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(p. 34) 2. Justifying the State 

(p. 34) 2. Justifying the State
Chapter:
(p. 34) 2. Justifying the State
Author(s):

Jonathan Wolff

DOI:
10.1093/hepl/9780199658015.003.0003
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date: 01 December 2020

This chapter examines consent theory and utilitarian theory, along with some other approaches to the moral defence of the state. Before deciding how best to justify the state, the chapter explains what a state is. It considers different types of state, from liberal democracies to dictatorships, benign or tyrannical, based on military rule, a monarchical family line, or party membership. Some states promote the free market, while others attempt collective forms of production and distribution. The chapter proceeds by discussing the goal of justifying the state: to show that there are universal political obligations. It then explores a number of defences of political obligation based on social contract, utilitarianism, and the principle of fairness.

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