Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

The Authority Of The State And The Duties Of The Citizen PHIL5015

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course discusses ancient and modern philosophical problems generated by the claim of the state to legitimate authority and the claim of the citizens to autonomy and self-governance


Thursdays, 10.00-12.00 noon, weekly

Requirements of Entry

Entry to Philosophy MLitt 2 and MSC Legal and Political Thought


Other qualifying courses for these two taught Master's degrees.


For Philosophy MLitt 2, 1exam

For LBSS MSc Legal and Political Thought: 1essay

Main Assessment In: December

Course Aims

This course aims to

i) concentrate on the ancient philosophical problem of political obligation.

ii) consider traditional and contemporary accounts of the nature and sources of the state's claim to legitimate authority and the grounds of citizens' duties - to the state and to each other.

iii) focuse on the shape of these problems and the analysis of leading concepts: legitimacy, authority, political obligations and duties.

iv) examine the philosophical cogency of the variety of arguments that have been employed to legitimize the state and adduce citizens' duties.

v) address several varieties of anarchist challenge.

vi) develop further the styles and methods of contemporary analytic philosophy.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. To articulate with care, making appropriate distinctions, the leading concepts in the field: political obligations and citizens' duties, the state and its legitimacy, political (and other forms of) authority.

2. To examine the forms, scope and limits of arguments designed to justify state authority and a regime of citizens' duties.

3. To present and evaluate the variety of anarchist challenges to the state's claim to authority.

4. To formulate and evaluate arguments from consent and contract, from the provision of benefits (fairness and gratitude), from utility, a natural duty of justice and a Samaritan duty of care.

5. To state and examine a variety of communitarian challenges to philosophical liberalism, evaluating the work of G.W.F. Hegel, Ronald Dworkin, John Horton and Margaret Gilbert.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.