Thus far we have examined several general theories of political obligation, which have all been found wanting to varying degrees. None of them, it has been argued, provides a very plausible basis for attributing political obligations to most members of any existing polity, or to any polities that have existed or are likely to exist. As this rather cumbersome way of expressing our interim conclusion perhaps suggests, this does not mean that none of the theories have anything to be said for them or that they cannot or could not explain how some people in some circumstances may come to have political obligations. The point is that they do not provide what they purport to offer, which is a convincing general justification of political obligation. A general theory, as set out in Chapter 1, does not need to explain how everyone has political obligations, but it should cover at least the standard case of people who acquire membership through being born into the polity. None of them, I want to suggest, effectively captures the intuitive idea of political obligation: the idea that we are ethically bound to our particular polity, although we never chose to join it and although it may be flawed in a variety of significant ways.
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