There are two bodies of literature, one offering theories of the legitimacy of domestic institutions like states, another offering theories of the legitimacy of international institutions like the IMF. Accounts of domestic legitimacy stress the importance of democratic procedure, while few to no theorists make democracy a necessary condition for the legitimacy of international institutions. In this paper, I ask whether this asymmetry can be defended. Is there a unified higher-order theory which can explain why legitimacy requires democracy in the (...) domestic context, but not in the international context? I argue that no proceduralist higher-order theory succeeds, and that we need to look for other solutions. (shrink)
Some authors have argued that legitimacy without authority is possible, though their work has not found much uptake in mainstream political philosophy. I provide an improved model how legitimate political institutions without authority are possible, the Transmission Model, which I couple with a thin substantive position, the Moral Value View. I defend the model against three common objections.
Many philosophers have claimed that relying on the testimony of others in normative questions is in some way problematic. In this paper, I consider whether we should be troubled by deference in democratic politics. I argue that deference is less problematic in impure cases of political deference, and most non-ideal cases of political deference are impure. To establish the second point, I rely on empirical research from political psychology. I also outline two principled reasons why we should expect political deference (...) to be untroubling: political problems are difficult and require a division of epistemic labour; furthermore, there is value in exercising epistemic solidarity with those one shares an identity or interests with. (shrink)
One of the most common arguments in favour of the state's authority is that without the coordinating hand of political institutions, we could not achieve important moral benefits. I argue that if we understand authority correctly, then coordination cannot even in principle establish that coordinators have political authority.
Political instrumentalism claims that the right to rule should be distributed such that justice is promoted best. Building on a distinction made by consequentialists in moral philosophy, I argue that instrumentalists should distinguish two levels of normative thinking about legitimacy, the critical and applied level. An indirect instrumentalism which acknowledges this distinction has significant advantages over simpler forms of instrumentalism that do not.
Some European countries legally recognise a “right to roam”—a right to freely traverse across land, even if privately owned. Political philosophers have paid little attention to the right, and have often conceptualised property rights to include strong claim-rights to exclude others. I offer an account of the right to roam, and consider whether it can be philosophically justified on a left-liberal account of property. After finding a defence in terms of the interests served by the right lacking, I suggest that (...) the most promising defence of the right to roam is that it serves as a symbolic reminder of a fundamental type of social equality. (shrink)
Two crucial distinctions regarding political competence must be made. First, the mere probability that you will make a morally right decision (reliability) is distinct from your ability to skillfully make a decision (competence). Empirical and normative accounts have focused primarily on reliability, but competence is more important if we take central normative commitments seriously. Second, the competence you have on your own (direct competence) is distinct from the competence you have in contributing to some collective enterprise (contributory competence). Direct competence (...) is likely to be extremely demanding in a democratic context, so we should move to a contributory account of competence. (shrink)
Some moral value is transparent just in case an agent with average mental capacities can feasibly come to know whether some entity does, or does not, possess that value. In this paper, I consider whether legitimacy—that is, the property of exercises of political power to be permissible—is transparent. Implicit in much theorising about legitimacy is the idea that it is. I will offer two counter-arguments. First, injustice can defeat legitimacy, and injustice can be intransparent. Second, legitimacy can play a critical (...) function in our practical thought, which sometimes requires intransparency. (shrink)
It is common in the literature to claim that legitimacy is the right to rule and that, accordingly, Hohfeldian rights analysis can be used to understand the concept. However, we argue that authors in the legitimacy literature have not generally realised the full potential of Hohfeldian analysis. We discuss extant approaches in the literature that conceptually identify legitimacy with one particular Hohfeldian incident, or, more rarely, a determinate set of incidents. Against these views, and building on parallel debates in property (...) theory, we suggest that Hohfeldian analysis pushes one towards the claim that legitimacy possesses no determinate essence. We provide a rationale for this novel view and disarm a series of objections. (shrink)
I develop a ‘duty-plus’ approach to supererogation based on a simple intuition: if I am required to do x or y, doing x and y is a candidate for, though not necessarily, supererogation. This is an appealing view to take, located midway between two extreme positions, supererogationism and rigorism. I give a precise statement of the view through the notion of disjunctive duties, and discuss the commitments a duty-plus theorist should make, independent from the Kantian context in which this position (...) is often discussed. I also advocate the novel claim that we should take supererogation as a property of sets of actions, rather than single actions. The latter view suffers from problems in cases of concurrent acts and accumulative supererogation. (shrink)
There has been little debate in political philosophy about whether the intentions of governments matter to the legitimacy of their policies. This paper fills this gap. First, I provide a rigorous statement of political anti-intentionalism, the view that intentions do not matter to political legitimacy. I do so by building on analogous debates in moral philosophy. Second, I sketch some strategies to defend political anti-intentionalism, which I argue are promising and available to a wide range of theories of legitimacy. Third, (...) I show that the distinction has implications for debates surrounding neutrality and political liberalism. (shrink)