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We often make claims about the duties of states. One might think, for example, that Australia has a duty to legalize homosexual marriage, or that the United States has a duty to make healthcare affordable. Can such duties be explained in terms of individuals’ duties? This chapter argues that many—though not all—can. The chapter builds a general and abstract analysis of how some collectives’ duties are explained by individuals’ duties, and applies it to states in a way that retains common-sense intuitions about states’ duties. It then uses that analysis to suggest a new sense of membership in a state. The analysis depends crucially on epistemic elements, including the beliefs and transfers of information required for reciprocal recognition and intentional participation; certain other bidirectional transfers of knowledge; and the required degree of justification for certain key beliefs.


Dianoia Institute of Philosophy

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Book Chapter

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