Some readers will by now probably have come to the conclusion that I am in some general way 'against authority'. It is true that I regard authoritarianism, and the unthinking acceptance of authority, as great evils. I do not see how anyone with the smallest knowledge of history can take any other view. But it does not follow at all that I imagine it would be possible in some sweeping way to abolish the idea of authority altogether, let alone that I think this is desirable. In fact I think it is quite clear that we just could not do without the notion of something like authority in our scheme of things. The reason for this is clearly put by Winch (1967). Where we take part in complex activities of any sort, whether it is teaching, playing the piano, putting up shelves or whatever, our taking part is bound up with our tacitly acknowledging that some things will count as failing in the activity and others as succeeding. It is hard to see what sense could be made of the statement 'Peter is putting up some shelves' if the speaker set no limits at all to what counts as putting up shelves. So 'to participate in such an activity is to accept that there is a right way and a wrong way of doing things' (Winch, 1967, italics removed). It is not so much that there is a, one single, way of putting up shelves or teaching that is the right way and all others are wrong, as that we must with such activities be prepared in principle to make the distinction between right and wrong ways, success and failure. Here we admit the notion of something like authority: the authority of the standards that mark the difference between right and wrong ways of doing things. (I say 'something like' because although I think that we cannot do without the concept of authority, for the reasons I have given, it is not clear to me that the word 'authority' is really appropriate in all cases of this sort.) I fully agree with Winch's way of putting the matter:

To submit to authority (as opposed to being subjected to power) is not to be subject to an alien will. What one does is directed rather by the idea of the right way of doing things in connection with the activity one is performing; and the authoritative character of an individual's will derives from its connection with that idea of a right way of doing things. (ibid.)