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Christopher W. Morris on Authority - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 199
Authority/Morris: Something is an authority, in the sense relevant here, only if its directives are (and are intended to be) action-guiding. For instance, consider the law. It forbids us from doing certain things, and it intends these prohibitions to guide our behaviour; specifically, these prohibitions are reason-providing. Authorities, then, mean to guide behaviour by providing reasons for action to their subjects. On this view, political authority is not to be understood
simply as justified force; something is a genuine authority only in so far as its directives are reasons
for action. Sanctions or force may frequently be necessary as a means to make effective this authority, but the two are not to be conflated. The key to the notion of sovereignty lies in the
idea of ultimate authority. >Sovereignty/Morris, >State/Morris, >Coercion/Morris, >Coercion/Political philosophy, >Command/Hart.
Gaus I 202
An overemphasis on the role of coercion and force in contemporary discussions of the state con-
tributes as well to the neglect in contemporary political theory - but not in legal theory - of the
importance and centrality of the state's authority. legitimate force. The authority claimed by states - typically, sovereignty - is extraordinary. In a certain respect, states are both easier and harder to justify. In my view their use of force may be much less problematic than is usually assumed. It is not hard to justify the use of force against killers and bullies. What is hard to justify are the extraordinarily sweeping normative powers claimed by states. >Law/Morris, >Social order/Morris, >Authority/Hart.


Morris, Christopher W. 2004. „The Modern State“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Morris, Christopher W.
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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