chapter  6
18 Pages


Little has been written about the nature and source of the duties that members of voluntary associations-clubs, teams, unions, movements, parties, universities, charities, churches and so on-owe to one another. The question has been eclipsed by consideration of the duties that obtain within families, among friends and between citizens. One reason for this neglect may be that we already have to hand two intuitively plausible accounts of the source of members’ intra-associational duties: consent and fair play. Thus, I owe a duty to pay my monthly subscription to my trade union because I chose to join it in the knowledge that monthly fees were required (an agency-based special duty), and perhaps because if I chose to enjoy the benefits of union membership without paying, I would free ride on others’ efforts (a fair play benefit-based one). A further reason for the relative neglect of voluntary associations may be that they do not appear to raise troubling moral problems, at least compared to the moral issues provoked by our membership in families and as citizen-members of the state. As voluntary associations, they are clearly not liable to Scheffler’s voluntarist objection. True, associations’ rules and institutions disburse goods, and they are therefore potentially liable to Scheffler’s distributive objection. Yet the distributive injustices they inflict seem less acute than in the case of families and the state. The good associations made available to members are not always distributable resources; where associations are concerned with these goods, their practices remain subject to coercive regulation by the state.