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OVERLY-GREAT EXPECTATIONS: WHY POLITICAL VOLUNTARISM IS IMPOSSIBLE, WHY PHILOSOPHICAL ANARCHISM IS UNNECESSARY, AND WHY THAT'S NOT A PROBLEM
Runnels, Jennifer Renee
Morris, Christopher W.
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John Locke argued that legitimate state authority is created when free individuals lend their personal power via consent to the state's governors. Modern Lockean A. John Simmons extends Locke's argument to conclude that, since this does not happen in the real world, philosophical anarchism must be accepted. I argue that classical consent cannot happen in the individual/state relationship. Its requirements can be met in some private relationships because of their special background conditions. The individual/state relationship, however, is not like private relationships, and the nature of the relationship keep classical consent's requirements from being fulfilled. First, state authority must extend over a very large set of issues, from the military and economics to education and health care, in order to perform its functions of mutual protection and advancement. Given the considerable number of state realms of power, coordinating the meaningful consent of thousands, millions, or billions of citizens is downright impossible. Second, classical consent theory requires that the consenter have an adequate understanding of what he is submitting to if that consent is to ground an authority exchange, but given the complexity of the state's constitution and its numerous realms of power, even the most intelligent person could not sufficiently comprehend the terms of the power exchange. Third, the state's directives are fundamentally different from regular interpersonal directives; they are final, sovereign, apply over territory, and require compliance, which is contrary to the voluntaristic spirit. To counter Simmons's argument, I argue that a distinction must be made between object-level governance, what state agents do, and meta-political activity, a category of activities performed by individual citizens that create and maintain state authority. Through meta-political activities, citizens are able to indirectly add to the state's constitution, in ways congruent with their mental powers, practical abilities and nature as private citizens.