Reconsidering the “Actual Contract” Theory of Political Obligation

TitleReconsidering the “Actual Contract” Theory of Political Obligation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsGilbert, M
JournalEthics
Volume109
Pagination236-260
Abstract

Do people have obligations by virtue of the fact that a given country is their country? Actual contract theory says they do because they have agreed to act in certain ways. Contemporary philosophers standardly object in terms of the 'no agreement' objection and the 'not morally binding' objection. I argue that the 'not morally binding' objection is not conclusive. As for the 'no agreement' objection, though actual contract theory succumbs, a closely related plural subject theory of political obligation does not. Plural subject theory may be the truth in actual contract theory and should be explored in its stead.