ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

The natural duty of justice and political obligation in the international realm

Dorothea Gädeke
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Dorothea Gädeke
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Open Panel

Abstract

Philosophical debate on political obligation (that is on what we owe the state) has mainly been framed in terms of theories of acquired obligation. According to this classical contract-theory based line of argument political obligation is based on consent or at least on the willing receipt of benefits from other’s cooperation. In his Theory of Justice, John Rawls by contrast provides an account of political obligation that is not contingent on some prior action but is rather based on a natural duty (as opposed to an acquired obligation) of justice. This duty hast two parts: It requires us to support and comply with already existing just institutions that apply to us as well as to establish just arrangements where none exist. While debates on this argument have remained scarce in general, they have mainly focused on its first part, namely the justification of a political obligation to comply with just institutions based on the natural duty argument. This issue in turn has been discussed almost exclusively in the context of domestic state institutions. The paper aims at transcending this double limitation by exploring the implications of both parts of Rawls’ argument on a global level. It discusses not only in how far the natural duty argument can provide an account of political obligation within international institutions beyond consent-based theories, but also – and within the international realm probably more importantly – how such just institutions that we owe compliance to, come into the world in the first place.