Critical philosophical anarchism : a defence of an anarchist approach to the problem of political authority
In this thesis I define and defend the philosophy of critical philosophical anarchism and show it to be superior to alternative (anarchist and non-anarchist) approaches to the problem of justification of political institutions. In general I argue that the anarchist position within the contemporary debate on political obligation has been dismissed too easily and that the value of an anarchist approach to an understanding of (and solution to) the problem of political authority is underestimated in current thought. In particular, my thesis sets out and defends the critical philosophical anarchist approach to the problem of political obligation and contrasts this approach with traditional treatments of the problem. I advance a clearer statement of the critical philosophical anarchist position than those currently available and demonstrate the continued value of taking an anarchist approach to the problem of political authority. This thesis has seven chapters. In the introductory chapter I set out the basic problem of political obligation and the anarchist position I want to defend. The first chapter presents the main aspects of the central problem and the main argument for its solution to be developed in the following chapters. Chapter two provides an analysis and restatement of anarchist arguments against consent and contract theories of political obligation. Chapter three offers considerations against a natural duty theory of political obligation. Chapter four addresses a reciprocity-based theory of political obligation, to wit: the principle of fairness as formulated by Hart and Rawls. The fifth chapter provides a general illustration of the distinctive contribution of critical philosophical anarchism to the problem of political authority. It develops the argument set out in chapter one and references to that argument in the preceding critical chapters on alternative approaches to the problem of political obligation. In the concluding chapter I tie together my argument for critical philosophical anarchism, as developed over the course of the thesis, and set out the main aims of an anarchist approach to society in light of this discussion.