Lynn Dobson
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Political agency
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Chapter 5 shows how and where citizenship fits into an account of the relationship between morality and politics. It claims that citizenship is the essential institutional link between individual human agency and collective political action. It deduces from Gewirth’s notion of rational agency a purely political conception of agency that, it contends, flows from his theory of action and interaction. Citizenship is better understood as an institutional role than as a status, and less about passive rights-holding than it is about effective powers to shape existential conditions. The argument presented here is that citizenship is instrumental to persons’ being able to carry out their mutual obligations as moral agents; its task is to render agency operative, by transmuting political agency into capacity for collective action. Thus, citizenship is not a desirable contingency but a moral necessity, and a third primary good, the powers of citizenship, should be added to Gewirth’s two primary goods of freedom and well-being.

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