The Right of the State to be
Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.
Publisher: Date:8/4/2009 - General Books LLC
By: Fred Manville Taylor
Excerpt from book: CHAPTER III. THE PBOBLEM DEFINED. In the preceding chapter we have maintained that the question " By what right does the state exist ? " presents to the student of political philosophy a real problem. In doing this we have taken for granted a sufficiently clear understanding as to the nature of that problem. But, before proceeding further, before undertaking a critique of the solutions which have been offered, it will be necessary to have the problem more exactly denned. For the course of speculation on the matter shows very plainly that different writers have not kept one and the same problem steadily before them, that, on the contrary, it has received a great variety of interpretations. Let us first, then, make clear just what is the question to be answered. To begin with, we can shut out one or two inter, pretations of that question which are quite common but very plainly erroneous. In the first place, though our problem is often spoken of as being the explanation of the origin of the state, it is in no sense concerned with the empirical process through which any government, or governments in general, have come into existence. Such an investigation belongs to history or anthropology and could throw no light on our difficulties. Those critics of the contract theory who meet it by denying the historical reality of any such original compact, miss the point of the discussion entirely. The question with the men of the revolutionary epoch was not, how did actual governments come intoexistence, but how could a government justly come into existence. "No one can well doubt that the family was prior, in time, to the clan or tribe . . . : but the matter o£ fact revealed by history has not been the point of chief interest: the speculations run back to the right of the state to exi...