Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
A System of Rights$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Rex Martin

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198292937

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198292937.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 November 2020

Allegiance and the Place of Civil Disobedience

Allegiance and the Place of Civil Disobedience

(p.185) 8 Allegiance and the Place of Civil Disobedience
A System of Rights

Rex Martin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter is concerned with political obligation, i.e. with one's obligation to obey the laws of one's own country. Here, it is suggested that such an obligation (or one's ‘allegiance,’ as I prefer to call it) varies from system to system; it is one thing in Plato's republic but something quite different in a democratic system of rights. We are concerned, then, with the allegiance of a typical citizen, when acting in character, within a given system of political principles and institutions.

It is argued that citizens have an obligation, a system‐specific duty, in a democratic system of rights to conform to the civil rights laws there. This institutional duty is then extended to take in one's duties towards some non‐rights laws (e.g. tax laws), but it never embraces literally all laws in that society. In the course of the analysis, the views of both John Simmons and John Rawls are criticized.

Democratic institutions provide an example of an inherently imperfect procedure for making civil rights laws; the connection between such institutions and such laws represents at best only a probabilistic tendency. In the end, then, we find that citizens have no duty to conform to all non‐defective rights laws simply in so far as they are enacted laws; The typical citizen can be civilly disobedient with respect to some civil rights laws (subject to certain constraints, e.g. nonviolence) while still satisfying fully the conditions of allegiance in a democratic system of rights.

Keywords:   allegiance, civil disobedience, democracy, political obligation, probability, John Rawls, John Simmons, system of rights

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .