Why Should We Obey the Law?
Why Should We Obey the Law?

Whether we should obey the law is a question that affects everyone’s day-to-day life, from traffic laws to criminal laws to requirements to pay our taxes. Even if most people obey unreflectively or out of habit, the question remains: why we are morally required to do so? If we fail to obey, the state may well enforce compliance, but is it right for it to do so, and if so, why?

In this book George Klosko, a renowned authority on political obligation, skilfully probes these questions.  Illustrating his analysis with concrete examples, he considers various prominent theories of obligation and shows why they are unpersuasive.  He contends that only an approach that interweaves multiple principles, rooted in the principle of "fair play", can provide a satisfying explanation of why we should obey the law.

While providing a clear and concise overview of the subject as a whole, Klosko develops the fullest statement of his own well known theory of political obligation.  The result is not only an essential introductory text for students of political theory and philosophy, but a cutting-edge, original contribution to the debate.

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  • October 2018 (pb)
    October 2018 (hb)
  • 138 pages
  • 124 x 190 mm / 5 x 7 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $45.00
  • 9781509521203
  • Paperback $12.95
  • 9781509521210
  • Open eBook $12.95
  • 9781509521241
Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Consent Theory

Chapter 3: The Principle of Fair Play

Chapter 4: Multiple Principle Theory

Chapter 5: Limits of Political Obligation


About the Author
George Klosko is the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia
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"George Klosko brings us quickly up to speed on this perennial question, and compellingly vindicates the common-sense view that, yes, we do have a duty to obey the law."
William A. Edmundson, Georgia State University College of Law

"This remarkably compact book is laudable both as an insightful survey of the debates surrounding political obligation and as a refinement of Klosko's important multiple-principle (but fairness-based) argument for the obligation to obey the law."
Richard Dagger, University of Richmond

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