Political Obligation and Collective Self-determination: An Associative Account
This thesis is concerned with the special duties and group rights that the citizens of a state may have. It develops an associative account that relates the idea of associative duty to both political obligation and collective self-determination. The three essays that constitute the core of this thesis each focus on associative duty, political obligation, and collective self-determination. Essay 1 lays foundations for an associative account of both political obligation and collective self-determination. It argues that value-based theories, which grounds associative duties on the value of special relationships, cannot show the moral weight of special relationships. Then the essay develops the expectation-based account of associative duties: one has special duties to one’s intimates and associates that arise from one’s special relationships with them because they form interactive expectations of one’s actions that one can fulfill without violating general duties. Essay 2 discusses the justification of political obligation. It inspects standard associative theories, which regard our political obligation as an associative duty that arises from our special relationship with our compatriots. It argues that these theories rely on accounts of associative duties that are either inapplicable to political communities or implausible. The main task of the second essay is to develop an instrumental associative theory holding that we have political obligations because our states serve as an instrument for promoting our associative duties to our intimates. Essay 3 explores the conception of a people, the primary holder of the right of self-determination, and the basis of this right. It shows that standard associative theories of collective self-determination face an indeterminacy problem. Then the essay defends a conception of a people as a network community. It argues that individuals have an associative interest in participating in the same self-determination project as their intimates and associates, and that the self-determination of a network community can promote its members’ associative interest. The essay also argues that an actual community can be a network community if its intra-group connections are much stronger than its inter-group connections and it opens its membership to non-members who are specially connected to its members.