Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Authority

  • Daniel BurstonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_200088

We tend to differentiate between different types of authority. Religious (or spiritual) authority, secular (or governmental) authority, and scientific authority are the three most common varieties. Ideally, each type of authority is supposed to be exercised in the public interest. Nevertheless, authority relations usually entail differences in status and power, so theories of authority are often rooted in a mood of skepticism, suspicion, or outright mistrust. So, for example, some theories stress the necessity of religious and secular authorities to constrain, punish, and perhaps pardon our sinful natures, or our allegedly instinctive tendencies to selfishness, lust, and violence (e.g., Augustine, Hobbes, Freud). These theories are rooted in a deep mistrust of human nature. By contrast, theories that stress the arbitrary, irrational, repressive, and power-seeking aspects of authority (among libertarian and anarchist thinkers, for example) are rooted in mistrust of authority itself....

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDuquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA