A useful technique in thinking about a philosophical issue is to try to identify what we "pre-theoretically" believe about the subject at hand and see if any theory can account for these beliefs. If no theory can, then among our options are to discard one or more of these beliefs and see which theory survives, or to become "skeptics" about the subject at hand.
In teaching political philosophy recently, I found this technique valuable as a way of evaluating competing theories of political obligation, i.e., theories about why we ought to support the state by obeying its laws, etc. I’d be curious to know if the pre-theoretical beliefs enumerated below accurately capture our (your) pre-theoretical understanding of our obligations to the state, and if so, whether any theory could actually vindicate all these beliefs.
So an adequate theory of political obligation should explain how states of a certain kind (I’ll call these L-states from here on) are legitimate. I.e., L-states rightfully exercise authority to make law and enforce it by means of coercion (with respect to certain people and not others obviously). This is where most of the philosophical debates about political obligation focus. Some theories invoke consent (whether explicit or tacit), others gratitude, a natural duty of justice, fair play, etc.  how L-states give those individuals who are obligated to obey their laws moral (not just prudential) reasons to obey. I.e., there exists a prima facie, but not necessarily all things considered, moral reason to obey the state, and those who disobey it are righly subject to moral criticism.  that L-states’ authority is at least to some extent content-independent. I.e., L-states are to be obeyed not because of what their laws require but because L-states are legitimate authorities.  that obligation to L-states is exclusive: No one individual is (equally) obligated to obey two or more L-states simultaneously. (Some theories, such as Hobbes’, meet this requirement by arguing that for any individual, there is only one possible state that is an L-state for that individual.)  that L-states’ authority roughly corresponds to their region of geographic sovereignty. So those who are obligated to a given state dwell (for the most part) within the boundaries of that state’s geographic territory. (There are complications here, for example, being obligated to pay taxes to the state one is a citizen of even when residing and working in another state.)  that aliens (visitors, immigrants, etc.) within L-states are (at least to some extent) obligated to obey L-states. Aliens don’t have the same obligations to the state that citizens do, but they at least have the obligation to, say, obey that state’s criminal code.  that political obligation is owed to L-states and not to particular governments of states. This is something like an identity condition through time: Even though particular governments (who the legislature, chief executive, etc. are) come and go, so long as a successor government of an L-state comes to power through just means, then the obligations owed to the earlier government transfer to the latter, since the latter is a successor to a legitimate state.
In pondering this list, I’m increasingly inclined toward skepticism, thinking that no state can explain all seven features of political obligation. Am I right?