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AbstractJohn Horton has argued for an associative theory of political obligation in which such obligation is seen as a concomitant of membership of a particular polity, where a polity provides the generic goods of order and security. Accompanying these substantive claims is a methodological thesis about the centrality of the phenomenology of ordinary moral consciousness to our understanding of the problem of political obligation. The phenomenological strategy seems modest but in some way it is far-reaching promising to dissolve some long-standing problems of political theory. However, it fails at just the point at which a theory of political obligation is needed, namely when individuals question the grounds of their political obligation. A principle of obligation is needed to provide individuals with a reason for compliance with authoritative social rules when the exercise of that obligation is irksome. It is at this point that we need to invoke the idea of society as an implicit social contract, in which obligations are seen as stemming from those terms that it would be in the interests of individuals to agree in a social contract. This is consistent with the method of reflective equilibrium.