The principal tasks of this book have now been completed. Several general theories of political obligation have been considered, and what I claim to be a more promising alternative approach has been sketched. The fundamental contention that I have sought to defend is that there is robust and cogent understanding of associative political obligations that provides a highly plausible explanation of how it is intelligible, reasonable and morally defensible for people to think that they have such obligations. I have also claimed that there are good, though not logically compelling, reasons as to why pretty much all of us should take the idea that we have political obligations seriously. The main arguments for these conclusions have been that political obligations are a concomitant of membership of a particular polity; a polity being a form of association that has as its generic value the good of order and security. Membership of a polity can be, and usually is, a status that one assumes without any voluntary decision to join and which is internalized through various forms of identification. The precise content of political obligations will vary according to the character of a particular polity but, because of the nature of the generic good of a polity, political authority in the form of governmental institutions backed by legitimate coercion will inevitably be at its heart. It has also been argued that it is hard to see how we could flourish, at least under conditions of modernity, outside of a polity. All of these arguments stand in need of greater refinement and further elaboration, but it is perhaps worth remarking that, while I can easily envisage many aspects of the particular account set out in Chapter 7 being qualified, revised and improved upon, and some rejected as mistaken, it is to the broad contours of an associative account of political obligation that my commitment is firmest.
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