Essay on Michael Huemer’s The Problem Of Political Authority

Essay on Michael Huemer’s The Problem Of Political Authority

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In Huemer’s The Problem Of Political Authority an argument is made against the idea of political authority. Political authority is defined as the feature that the government has that makes it morally permissible for them to do things that ordinary citizens cannot. The idea in this argument is that the government should not have rights that citizens do not have. The purpose of this paper is to show that Huemer’s argument fails by arguing a consent-based response to Huemer’s criticisms, which shows that the government has politically authority because we have consented to it. The idea behind this is that we have actually consented to the government’s authority in several ways without being explicit, therefore showing that there is a difference between a government’s actions and a citizen’s actions even when they are identical.

1. Huemer’s Argument
Here is Huemer’s Argument: it is immoral for somebody to go around kidnapping people and to extort his neighbors. There is no morally significant difference between somebody doing this and how the government acts by going around imprisoning criminals and taxing the citizens. Therefore the government should not have the authority to act in the way they do. When the government kidnaps someone it is called imprisonment and okay to do. When the government extorts someone it is called taxation and okay do. How can the government have identical actions to something illegal and it is totally legal for the government to do it? Even if this person forces his neighbors at gunpoint this is not different from the government and the way they go about using coercion to obtain what they want. Logically there is something wrong with this person forcing his neighbors so should there not be something wr...

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...d expect compensation. If the government compensates everyone then it would come to a halt because there would be no money and no time left to deal with other ordeals. In order for this to not happen the state has to focus on the public at large. In doing so the state is able to do the best they can in any given situation. This defeats Huemer’s argument by showing that the state is making a reasonable attempt to keep the public safe, which is what the individuals are consenting to originally according to the state. This consent grants the government political authority therefore showing the difference between a citizen’s actions and the government’s actions.


Huemer, Michael. "2." The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. N. pag. Web.

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