Social Philosophy and Policy 32 (2):227-245 (2016)

Fabian Wendt
Chapman University
In the last ten or fifteen years, realism has emerged as a distinct approach in political theory. Realists are skeptical about the merits of abstract theories of justice. They regard peace, order, and stability as the primary goals of politics. One of the more concrete aims of realists is to develop a realist perspective on legitimacy. I argue that realist accounts of legitimacy are unconvincing, because they do not solve what I call the “puzzle of legitimacy”: the puzzle of how some persons can have the right to rule over others, given that all persons are equals. I focus on the realist accounts of legitimacy developed by Bernard Williams and John Horton.
Keywords Legitimacy  Political Authority  Realism  Bernard Williams  John Horton
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/s0265052516000182
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 50,342
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Realism in Normative Political Theory.Enzo Rossi & Matt Sleat - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (10):689-701.
Philosophy and Real Politics.Raymond Geuss - 2008 - Princeton University Press.
Realism in Political Theory.William A. Galston - 2010 - European Journal of Political Theory 9 (4):385-411.
Realism, Liberal Moralism and a Political Theory of Modus Vivendi.John Horton - 2010 - European Journal of Political Theory 9 (4):431-448.
Realism Without Illusions.Mark Philp - 2012 - Political Theory 40 (5):629-649.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Radicalizing Realist Legitimacy.Ben Cross - 2019 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 46 (4):369-389.
The Inevitable Social Contract.David Dyzenhaus - forthcoming - Res Publica:1-16.
Can Realism Save Us From Populism? Rousseau in the Digital Age.Ilaria Cozzaglio - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488512090692.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Bernard Williams and the Possibility of a Realist Political Theory.Matt Sleat - 2010 - European Journal of Political Theory 9 (4):485-503.
Three Elements of Stakeholder Legitimacy.Adele Santana - 2012 - Journal of Business Ethics 105 (2):257-265.
Legitimacy in Realist Thought.Matt Sleat - 2014 - Political Theory 42 (3):314-337.
The Conditions of Realism.Christian Miller - 2007 - Journal of Philosophical Research 32:95-132.
Legitimacy is Not Authority.Jon Garthoff - 2010 - Law and Philosophy 29 (6):669-694.
Empirical Realism and the Legitimacy of Ontology: A Dialogue.Dustin McWherter - 2015 - Journal of Critical Realism 14 (5):449-460.
On the Value of Political Legitimacy.M. Coakley - 2011 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 10 (4):345-369.
Consensus, Compromise, Justice and Legitimacy.Enzo Rossi - 2013 - Critical Review of Social and International Political Philosophy 16 (4):557-572.


Added to PP index

Total views
36 ( #263,633 of 2,326,057 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #165,413 of 2,326,057 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes