Note on Authority III

  • If ownership of a person was possible, it would be good and just. Since authority is a real power, completing its end is a real good. However, since ownership of a person is impossible, not only is it a violence against a human, but a perversion of authority.
  • Political authority differs from ownership in virtue of its object, which differ essentially.
  • Political authority as opposed to ownership is a moral power. Ownership is a certain power to order things to ends, which does imply obligations upon others, but in virtue of the authority over the object rather than end given by the authority to the person.
  • Political authority is a moral authority over men. Ownership is a rational authority over non-rational objects.
  • Political authority as a moral power proposes to the intellect of the person some good, however, the power consists in the good proposed. A man may propose to you some good and you may deliberate over it. An authority proposing the same good proposes that good in a higher degree. The good accrues a certain necessity over other goods in proportion to the authority’s power. The same good proposed by different man may differ in virtue of authority as council and obligation.
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