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The Illegitimacy of a Natural Duty to States.pdf

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Duties of respecting the rights of other moral agents are considered to be proxemic by
Waldron – one only owes these duties to those agents in the immediate vicinity, because these
are the agents that are threatened by breaches of justice: “Valid principles of justice, then, can be
range-limited, imposing moral duties on those adjacent to one another that are not owed to
everyone else” (Simmons 172). What may actually count as sufficient proximity to entertain a
claim of a violation of one’s rights is unclear and not explained. Even if we accept this notion, it
must be stressed that the nature of this duty is that it is justified by the property of moral agency
of the individuals in society, not the organizations from which they associate. How then, if there
is ultimately no clear and distinct distance that constitutes an injustice between physical
individuals, can there be any meaningful identification of what would constitute a special
violation of duties to the State, which arbitrarily determines its size and scope through making
impassioned claims of legitimate jurisdiction over some specified area?
One could argue that for enforcing justice, an institutional structure is for practicality
reasons required, and that institutions acting as arbiters of justice must have their decrees
respected in order to realistically facilitate a rule law. Let this be granted. How then does a moral
agent determine which of these States in particular, however they may have defined the scope of
their borders, truly holds the legitimate claim on a moral agent’s dutiful compliance with its
rules? For Stiltz’s argument to hold, there must then be an adequate selection criterion
determining the States in which these duties are truly owed. Perhaps natural duty is owed to all
States, but then, how can one fulfill one’s natural duty if two or more of the duties imposed by
states conflict? If in this case we may just as well weigh and pick the most just principle of the
list, what purpose then remains to continue to submit to States? It appears that the allocation of
one’s duty to a State is contingent on the area that one happens to be standing in, but how can