By the same authors

Duties of Samaritanism and Political Obligation

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Publication details

JournalLegal Theory
DatePublished - Sep 2008
Issue number03
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)193-217
Original languageEnglish


In this article I criticize a theory of political obligation recently put forward by Christopher Wellman. Wellman's “samaritan theory” grounds both state legitimacy and political obligation in a natural duty to help people in need when this can be done without unreasonable cost. I argue that this view is not able to account for some important features of the relation between state and citizens that Wellman himself seems to value. My conclusion is that the samaritan theory can be accepted only if we are ready to give up either the traditional notion of political obligation as a prima facie duty valid for every citizen or the current view of the relationships that should exist between states, citizens, and foreigners (the view according to which states should have special concerns for their own citizens).

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