This essay begins, therefore, with a brief history of the problem of political obligation. It then turns, in Part II, to the conceptual questions raised by political obligation, such as what it means for an obligation to be political. In Part III the focus is on the skeptics, with particular attention to the self-proclaimed philosophical anarchists, who deny that political obligations exist yet do not want to abolish the state. Part IV surveys the leading contenders among the various theories of political obligation now on offer, and Part V concludes the essay with a brief consideration of recent proposals for pluralistic or "multiple principle" approaches.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2014 Stanford University. This article first appeared in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.

Purchase online at Stanford University.