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01/16/2014

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Thomas

I agree with the thrust of your remarks, especially concerning the concept of authority. There is just a slight confusion which means that matters are actually even worse for Brennan than you suggest. He argues not from a supposed lack of consensus among political philosophers about which argument for authority works. He states that there is a consensus that they do not work. This is evidently false (I have seen very few retractions of the various arguments for authority put forward in the literature) and testifies to a very insular understanding of political philosophy.

Eric Schliesser

Thomas, thank you for comment, and for reporting your informed judgment on the state of play among professional political philosophers. I think we agree on the facts (see the paragraph before I stipulate that Brennan is right about 1B), but I do not trust my judgment on the state of play.
Either way, it appears that Brennan believes that Simmons has established a new consensus: "Thanks in part to the work of John Simmons, it’s now fairly standard among political philosophers to hold that governments can be legitimate but are generally not authoritative."--Jason Brennan http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2013/08/promises-and-following-orders/
If you are right, Brennan conflates here what he thinks should be the case with what is the actual case.

Enzo Rossi

This is right up my street. Frankly Brennan is far too quick. It's true that these days mainstream moralistic political philosophers tend to assume that some moral argument is needed to establish authority as opposed to anarchy. But the opposite view, political naturalism, has been dominant for most of the history of Western political philosophy (right until the early modern period, roughly). The view's pithiest statement is Aristotle's "man is a political animal". Contemporary political realists (not much to do with IR realism) are trying to recover this tradition. Well, at least I am. It's gonna be a long slog.

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