From citizens paying taxes to employees following their bosses'
orders and kids obeying their parents, we take it for granted that
a whole range of authorities have the power to impose duties on
others. However, although authority is often accepted in practice,
it looks philosophically problematic if we conceive persons as free
and equals. In this short and accessible book, Fabian Wendt
examines the basis of authority, discussing five prominent theories
that try to explain how claims to authority can be vindicated.
Focusing in particular on the issue of how states can rightfully
claim authority, he rigorously analyses the theories' arguments and
evaluates their strengths and weaknesses. He also debates anarchism
as an alternative that should be taken seriously if no theory
ultimately succeeds in explaining state authority. This clear and
engaging book will be essential reading for anyone grappling with
the most fundamental questions of authority and obligation in
political theory and political philosophy.
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