Taken together, the three preceding chapters have considered a wide variety of theories of political obligation, and all those that could be counted as standard theories. The upshot of the discussion so far is that, notwithstanding several of the approaches having distinctive merits, all are ultimately unconvincing: none of the theories provides a satisfactory general account of political obligation. Perhaps inevitably, the failure of these theories has given rise to real doubts about there being a convincing general account of political obligation, and it is therefore not surprising that a number of philosophers have come to more or less sceptical conclusions about the possibility of any philosophically cogent account of political obligation (e.g. Smith, 1973a; Wolff, 1976; Simmons, 1979, 2001). The perceived failure of attempts to justify political obligation has led in turn to the claim that there are few, if any, such obligations. In short, on this view, there is no special moral relationship between people and the polity of which they are members. Typically, this sceptical conclusion about political obligation is the basis for some kind of anarchism; and is the subject of this chapter. In particular, we shall be concerned with the question of the viability of the anarchist vision of political relations and whether the wholesale rejection of political obligation really offers a convincing alternative to the theories that have so far been rejected. If, as will be argued, this turns out not to be the case, then we shall need to return once more to our search for a more satisfactory account of political obligation.
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