Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Michael Huemer, PhD

Second Advisor

Dominic Bailey, PhD

Third Advisor

Jeffery Willett

Abstract

Abstract: There are actions carried out by government under the guise of political authority that are immoral and unjust. I hope to show that the fact that government is the entity carrying out the morally questionable action is not sufficient to satisfy conditions that make prima facie wrong actions morally permissible. I will explore some political theories that attempt to explain why government has political authority, then challenge those theories. In an attempt to make clear why political authority is unjustified, I provide an argument in the form of a variety of extreme examples in which political authority might be justified. By using extreme examples I hope it becomes obvious that political authority is unjust in a normal society. The main concept that I hope can be taken from this paper is this: while the parent/child, employer/employee, doctor/mentally ill patient, morally superior person/morally inferior person, and expert/average person, relationships are all examples of valid authority, the relationship government has with the governed is not an example of valid authority. I wish to show with a discussion on morality, an analysis of various political theories, and my extreme examples of appropriate authority that government authority and actions are unjust.

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