A comparative study of the main theories of justification of political authority

Mahajan, Satinder Nath
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This study shows that the current theories of justification of political authority fail to yield coherent answers to questions posed in this area. The distinction between justification and legitimacy has not been clearly made and emphasized as it should be. Also too much attention has been focused on the procedural criteria, while the substantive criteria of justification of authority have been neglected. In my treatment of the question, I have attempted to correct these shortcomings and have shown that the question of justification of political authority can be dealt with more adequately in a value-oriented framework. I have tried to demonstrate this by a study of such diverse thinkers as Kautalya and Manu, Confucius, and Mencius, Lao Tzu, and Chuang Tzu, Hobbes and Locke. This study yields us two hypotheses, one of a lower and the other of a higher generality. The lower level hypothesis states that on the basis of the shared values of a society in conjunction with their belief systems about man, nature, society, end-means continuum et cetera, we can make fairly accurate predictions about their answers to questions of political obligation, limits of and checks on political authority, determination of political elites and so on. Verification of this hypothesis by an extensive study of various societies requires the development of a scientifically rigorous method by \~1ich we may discover and study the values and the relevant belief-systems of societies. This study, in so far as it points to the need of developing such a method and invites testing by the use of such a method, provides us with avenues for further research. At the general level, if the question, "Why is there political authority at all?" is to be considered as a request for the explanation of the existence of political authority as a universal phenomena, then the answer proposed, again as a hypothesis, is this: Most societies in past as well as present, have regarded the existence of some kind of political authority as necessary for the realization of those values which are required for a good life, even though conceptions of "good life" and the means to attain it have differed widely. Hence, political authority to some extent and in some form or other exists almost universally. But if the question seeks a philosophical justification and not merely an explanation of the existence of political authority and political obligation, then the answers suggested above are not adequate. In order to answer the question in this sense, we will have to go into value theory to find a valid criteria to establish values which may be considered universally as morally compelling. I have noted the main four approaches to this question and have found them to be inadequate. Towards the end, however, I have suggested an approach which, with further developments and refinements may take us out of the quagmire in which value theory is today, and yield a universal value criteria.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii, 1969.
Bibliography: leaves [131]-135.
v, 135 l
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii (Honolulu)). Philosophy; no. 269
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