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Authority and harm

Parry, Jonathan (2017) Authority and harm. In: Sobel, David, Vallentyne, Peter and Wall, Steven, (eds.) Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy,3. UNSPECIFIED, New York, USA, 252 - 278. ISBN 9780198801221

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Identification Number: 10.1093/oso/9780198801221.003.0011


This paper argues that certain common views about, respectively, the justification of harm and the moral limits of legitimate authority require revision. It defends two main claims. The first concerns agents who are commanded to inflict serious harm on others. It is argued that agents can be morally required to obey such commands, including in (at least some) cases where harming would be morally prohibited in the absence of the command. The argument thus defends a novel ‘authority-based’ justification for harm. The second claim concerns the permissibility of using defensive force against ‘authorized threateners’. It is argued that an agent’s possessing an authority-based justification does not, in itself, raise the justificatory burden on defensively harming them. In doing so, an alternative explanation is provided of why resisting authorized agents is often intuitively impermissible, which holds that authoritative commands can also impose constraints on causing harm, in addition to creating justifications.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: © 2017 The Authors
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2019 07:48
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 05:51

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