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date: 14 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines Robert Paul Wolff’s arguments in In Defense of Anarchism about state authority and individual autonomy, and how plausible they are for philosophical anarchism. According to Wolff, the authority of the modern state cannot be justified because it conflicts with the autonomy of the individual. The presumptive clash between state authority and individual autonomy that Wolff highlights remains central to the philosophical anarchist critique of the state, a position that has gained prominence—and widespread acceptance—in contemporary political philosophy. The rest of this chapter comments on Wolff’s views in more detail, including those concerning compliance with the state, a state’s right to rule, unanimous direct democracy, and majority rule. It also discusses Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s assertion that persons must remain free in obeying the state.

Keywords: Robert Paul Wolff, In Defense of Anarchism, state authority, individual autonomy, philosophical anarchism, state, compliance, right to rule, direct democracy, majority rule, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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