If you really don’t know who is in charge, you don’t have time for theory
April 2, 2014 § 29 Comments
Some folks seem to think that in the absence of an abstract formal theory explaining why we should obey our particular sovereign, we don’t have an obligation to obey our particular sovereign. No formalized theory of authority means no reality of authority.
It seems to me that contemplation of formalized theories of sovereignty is a luxury that only those under a clearly defined public authority can afford; and that what they are typically buying is not understanding, but rebellion.
Authority in general, of course, because of its very nature, cannot compel us to do evil. However, finding City Hall and identifying the government is not typically difficult for most people. If you have the free time to contemplate political theory it is a virtual certainty that you live under a well defined public authority.
And the reasons for actual rebellion, in those rare cases when rebellion is morally licit, cannot come from some abstract theory of sovereignty. They can only come from the just war doctrine.