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By Rex Martin

The justification of political authority is a long-standing factor of political philosophy, one that again and again defies resolution. This publication offers an unique justification via developing a framework for facing this challenge. The version that emerges is one during which sure different types of political rights are emphasised. Martin discusses the consequences of one of these approach for democratic associations, political allegiance, punishment, and finally for the character of political authority.

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But whether others act to interfere or not, there is normative direction given to their conduct in the case at hand: they are not supposed to interfere; it is improper to do so. The crucial fragment of reasoning would go something like this. We first suppose that the doing of A by an agent is socially endorsed. Here the accomplishing of A—as an end-state or goal, as something that is to be brought about—is socially approved. More specifically, we could say, for example, that the accomplishment of A is allowed.

For the economic and social rights have in common with rights to avoidance of injury a significant feature: all these rights concern, crucially, ways of being treated. 19 But the social and economic rights are not simply or even mainly rights to the forbearance and preventive actions of others; rather, they are principally rights to services on the part of others. Thus, one has an effective right to education when, on a basis available to all, schools are built, teachers are trained and certified, a general curriculum established, and an environment thus created for learning to read, write, do sums, and so on.

The disputation seems to require such determinateness; for it matters, crucially, whether going to the pond on this particular path is a right. If simple access to the pond had been all that mattered, where other paths were available, the dispute would have reduced to issues merely of custom or convenience. I do not, of course, want to suggest that people never dispute about more abstract matters (the right to travel, for example). It's just that if we could not reach something fairly determinate from the abstract assertion of the right, then the assertion of a right here is irresolute; it would not tell people what they could or could not do and they would soon lose interest.

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