- The anarchist's myth: autonomy, children and state legitimacy
- Volume | Issue number
- 30 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Philosophical anarchists have made their living criticizing theories of state legitimacy and the duty to obey the law. The most prominent theories of state legitimacy have been called into doubt by the anarchists' insistence that citizens' lack of consent to the state renders the whole justificatory enterprise futile. Autonomy requires consent, they argue, and justification must respect autonomy. In this essay, I want to call into question the weight of consent in protecting our capacity for autonomy. I argue that if we care about all of the preconditions for autonomy, then we have good reasons to leave the state of nature. This leaves the philosophical anarchist with a dilemma. If she truly cares about autonomy, then she must welcome the state. But if she wants to deny the legitimacy of the state because of the value of consent, then she needs to downplay the moral significance of autonomy in people's lives. If autonomy matters, the state does too. If it doesn't, then consent doesn't. The philosophical anarchist can't have it both ways.
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