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Grayling’s question

By AC Grayling   September 2007

What, if anything, justifies one person or body having authority over others?

In the state of nature as envisaged by Hobbes, it is easy to imagine how the competence, experience, superior skill or strength of certain individuals would make them obvious candidates for leadership roles which others might be pleased (or wise) to accept. This remains true, in a local way, in all human groups; “natural leaders” emerge, and familiar aspects of social dynamics prompt others to submit to their authority in particular respects.

But in the state of nature, or situations very like it, authority tends to be arrogated…

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