The Legitimate Authority Of A Despot In The Uk

2117 words - 8 pages

I will advance the thesis, if an enlightened despot seized power in the UK, and governed it justly, then the despot would have legitimate authority. By saying the despot’s authority would be legitimate, I mean that, even though the despot abruptly seized power without the explicit consent of the citizens, which would then result in a loss of autonomy and negative liberty, the authority is governing the society justly, so a small amount of their rights must be sacrificed for a better society. I have three reasons for asserting the legitimate authority of the despot; first, the tacit and hypothetical consent theories; second, instrumentalism; and third, positive liberty. As mentioned above, my thesis stating the legitimacy of the despot’s political authority is heavily dependent on the consent and acceptance of the subjects; for although there are differing opinions on this subject, I intend to prove it’s legitimacy, then disprove any objections that are against my thesis.
The potential reach of my argument needs to be specified at the outset by clarifying the sense in which I will be using certain terms. To begin, I will define legitimate political authority as, “a right to rule (Raz 1985, p. 3),” and this definition illustrates that the authority is legitimate based on the fact that the despot is not just accepted because they want the authority and power, but because they have a right to be the authority. With this definition, the despot has the right to rule, so the citizens are obligated to obey, which is described from the consent theories, which were originally proposed by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau to characterize the nature of the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. In this context, I define the consent theories in accordance with Hannah Pitkin’s Obligation and Consent-I. First, explicit consent is used in the sense, “no person is obligated to obey today unless he has himself consented (Pitkin 1965, p. 995)”, which means that the person consented expressly, such as signing a contract or taking an oath (Simmons 1976, p. 275). Second, I use the term tacit consent, which is derived from John Locke, to indicate, “every man that hath any possession or enjoyment of any part of the dominions of any government doth thereby give his consent, and is as far forth obliged to obedience to the laws of that government, during such enjoyment (Pitkin 1965, p. 995);” and thus the act of remaining in a territory or using a money system is tacitly consenting. Thrice, in the most basic sense, the hypothetical consent theory emerges from the situation where the subjects “ought to consent (Pitkin 1965, p.999),” which means, “subjects are obligated to consent, if the government is just (Pitkin 1965, p.999)” because, in this instance, the authority is just; so when they would ask for consent, the subjects would, of course, agree because the authority is just and anything they do is in the best interest of the subjects. Similarly, as...

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