Realist legitimacy: What kind of internalism?

Philosophy and Social Criticism (forthcoming)
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Most realist theories of legitimacy are internalist theories, meaning that they regard legitimacy as a function of how subjects view their own rulers. However, some realists seek to qualify their internalism by holding that legitimacy is not simply a matter of whether subjects accept their rulers’ exercise of power. According to one such view, legitimacy requires that rulers’ power be ‘acceptable’ to subjects, in the sense that it can be justified on the basis of values that they accept. Call this acceptability internalism. In this article, I argue that realists should reject acceptability internalism. I first argue that acceptability internalism has the disadvantage of separating the concept of legitimacy from the interests of rulers. I then consider two arguments in favour of acceptability internalism, and argue that both should be rejected.



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Ben Cross
Wuhan University'

Citations of this work

Metaethics as Dead Politics? On Political Normativity and Justification.Ben Cross - forthcoming - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-17.

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Being realistic and demanding the impossible.Enzo Rossi - 2019 - Constellations 26 (4):638-652.
Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1987 - Behaviorism 15 (2):179-181.

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