Daniel Mark, Politics

A Critique of Joseph Raz's Theory of Authority

Date: 
Mon, 11/29/2010
Location: 
4:30 PM, Library Lounge, Bendheim Center for Finance
Event Category: 
Seminar
Audience: 
Graduate Students

LEGS, or "Law-Engaged Graduate Students," meets during the academic year to discuss a work in progress by one of our Graduate Associates. Academic papers, dissertation proposals, and dissertation chapters have been presented at these meetings, to an audience of fellow graduate students.  The seminar begins with the presentation of the paper by its author in a 15-20 minute conference-style presentation, after which we will open to the audience for discussion.   

In the LEGS seminar on 29 November, Daniel Mark will present  "A Critique of Joseph Raz's Theory of Authority."

Daniel writes: "  In this paper, I critique Joseph Raz's theory of authority.  Raz's theory attempts to show how authority can be legitimate, contrary to the charge of the philosophical anarchists that authority always entails a violation of autonomy.  Legitimate authority, according to Raz, bases its commands on the reasons that already apply to its subjects.  I argue that this is not enough to produce even the limited obligation to obey the law that Raz believes it does because it can do no more than give the subjects reasons to comply.  I also address Raz's theory that respect for the law can generate an obligation to obey and argue that this suffers from similar flaws as the previous point.  Raz's emphasis on reason, namely Raz's justification of authority by its adherence to the reasons that subjects already have and its strict limitation to those circumstances, means that authority is not meaningful and essentially resembles advice.  Furthermore, the justification by reason means that Raz must concede that any theory of authority will presuppose some theory of the good."