11th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Stoian

Valentin Stoian

Dworkin’s Associative Political Obligations and the Anarchist Challenge

The article argues that Ronald Dworkin’s account of political obligation as a form of associative obligation fails to ground a duty to obey the law. The article shows how Dworkin does not succeed in establishing what A.J. Simmons calls the particularity condition. First, Dworkin’s 1986 account of associative obligations is contrasted to its anarchist criticism. Then, Dworkin’s 2011 clarifications made in Justice for Hedgehogs are analyzed. The article shows that Dworkin’s 2011 version of associative political obligations fails the same way as the 1986 version. Dworkin grounds the obligation to obey the law of the state in the claim that one has duties to some associations he participates in, even if he did not consent to this participation. Further, with special reference to political obligation, Dworkin claims that the state is a coercive association in which all participate and which undermines each participants’ dignity. To argue for the claim, the article utilizes arguments about coercion employed in the global justice debate. It shows how Dworkin’s account of associative political obligations is based on a classical concept of coercion. This reading of coercion has been severely criticized by Laura Valentini and Arash Abizadeh. The article transfers some arguments from the discussion on coercion and global justice into the field of political obligation and legitimacy. Finally, Dworkin’s account of participation in coercion is challenged, showing how it is not possible to refuse this involvement.