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Grant number like: FB-50312-04

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Christopher Heath Wellman
Washington University (Atlanta, GA 30303-2538)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2004 – 4/30/2005

Samaritanism and Political Obligation

The goal of this study is to develop and defend an original account of our duty to obey the law. Political obligation has been a significant and enduring problem for political philosophers because we place a premium upon individual liberty, and states restrict this liberty with coercive laws. A central project for political theorists, then, is to explain why the state is justified in infringing upon its citizens' liberty and why citizens are morally bound to comply with these legal commands. Despite the centrality of this issue, no one has yet offered a satisfactory account of political obligation. I propose to write a book which seeks to fill this lacuna. First I will construct a samaritan justification for the state's right to rule all those within its territorial boundaries, and then I will explain our obligation to obey the law. With these central accounts in place, I will address more specific issues, including our special obligations concerning voting, military service, and redistribution among compatriots.