As we delve further into the question of political obligation as a natural duty, it is important to consider the role of nature in human affairs. Firstly, we as a species are still related to the other classes of organisms on planet earth. The creationist view of life has been quelled by the validity of gradual evolutionary processes that govern all life. There is sufficient evidence (including DNA testing) to confirm the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection. This natural process continues to work within the artificial confines erected by modern civil societies. The largest of these confinements is the nation-state, which has added new dimension to the concept of ‘group selection’. The relevance of theories of biology to that of political science lies in the fact that phenomena such as kin-ship bonds, out-group hostility, group selection, etc. are plausible explanations for acts of racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing and xenophobia that we’ve witnessed in recent history. On the positive side, studies of different primate species have underlined the virtues of altruism among social groups. Hence, it is fair to state that the inherent nature of human beings continues to work and adjust to artificial political constraints such as national borders. This understanding is essential to solve problems such as environmental pollution that was discussed above, as it suggests that national boundaries and the rights and duties conferred on citizens within them, stand secondary to the welfare of broader humanity.
Going back to the issue of environmental pollution, the obligation for signing nations to abide by the Kyoto Protocol is a political obligation which is also a natural duty. The member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), on the other hand, do not have the imperative to adhere to the treaty, as it has lost relevance since the end of the Cold War. What we learn from this example is that political obligation does not always originate from ethical and moral considerations, whereas natural duties do. In this context, it is useful to introduce the view of Christopher Wellman, who attempts to support political obligations on the basis of a principle of samaritanism. In the words of George Klosko,
“Wellman appeals to the familiar idea that people have strong moral requirements to come to the aid of others who are in peril or dire need. As Wellman sees things, the dangers in question are those of a Hobbesian state of nature, which people would generally confront, if not for benefits provided by the state, especially the rule of law. Wellman believes that the dangers can be alleviated only by state coordination, supported by coercion, and so citizens can justifiably be forced to obey the law. Like theories based on gratitude and fairness, samaritanism grounds political obligations on state benefits. But unlike these other theories, Wellman’s turns on benefits provided to other people: ‘the perils that others would experience in a state of nature’ can justify impinging on moral rights people would otherwise have”. (Klosko, 2005)
George Klosko, who has written an important book title Political Obligation and the Natural Duties of Justice, endorses Christopher Wellman’s principle on grounds of its advantages over competing theories. He explains that while samaritanism is theoretically similar to natural duty of justice, the general framework of its application is very broad. This is in sharp contrast with John Rawls’s natural political duty, which is open to varied interpretation and is usually applied to problems of political obligation. There is a strong affinity between Wellman’s samaritanism and theories based on the principle of fairness. With complex co-operation required for availing the benefits provided by the state, it is the obligation of every citizen to abide by the law as his/her contribution to the ‘overall samaritan task’. It must be admitted, however, that Wellman’s theory is not a panacea by any means. It provides satisfactory solutions to certain cases of moral conundrums but fails in others (Klosko, 2005).