However, some thinkers do not perceive the attitude of subjects toward such authority as the decisive factor. Thus, Thomas Hobbes and John Austin argue that political authority in the de facto sense simply amounts to the capacity of an individual or community to maintain public order as well as secure the obedience of most people by issuing commands backed by sanctions. Consequently, the legitimacy of authority as perceived by subjects is not important and any entity that is de facto performs the function of authority is always justified (Hobbes 1668).
Another essential aspect of the authority debate is its distinction from political power. In politics it is a common practice to use the terms power and authority interchangeably though the meaning of these terms is different. The difference lies mainly in the fact that 'authority' involves a claim of justification and legitimate right to exercise power over the subjects while 'power' implies a mere ability to achieve certain goals and does not necessarily involve a claim of justification and/or legitimacy (Arendt, 1968).
Thus, political power relates to the state's ability to get citizens to act in a certain manner even despite their reluctance. ...Show more