A discussion on the justification of the state and state legitimacy

University of Virginia Abstract In this essay I will discuss the relationship between two of the most basic ideas in political and legal philosophy: I plainly cannot aspire here to a complete account of these matters; but I hope to be able to say enough to motivate a way of thinking about the relation between these notions that is, I believe, superior to the approach which seems to be dominant in contemporary political philosophy.

A discussion on the justification of the state and state legitimacy

The main function of political legitimacy, on this interpretation, is to explain the difference between merely effective or de facto authority and legitimate authority.

John Locke put forward such an interpretation of legitimacy. The solution to this problem is a social contract that transfers political authority to a civil state that can realize and secure the natural law.

According to Locke, and contrary to his predecessor Thomas Hobbes, the social contract thus does not create authority. Political authority is embodied in individuals and pre-exists in the state of nature.

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The social contract transfers the authority they each enjoy in the state of nature to a particular political body. While political authority thus pre-exists in the state of nature, legitimacy is a concept that is specific to the civil state.

Because the criterion of legitimacy that Locke proposes is historical, however, what counts as legitimate authority remains connected to the state of nature. The legitimacy of political authority in the civil state depends, according to Locke, on whether the transfer of authority has happened in the right way.

Locke understands the consent criterion to apply not just to the original institutionalization of a political authority—what Rawls It also applies to the ongoing evaluation of the performance of a political regime—Rawls Although Locke emphasises consent, consent is not, however, sufficient for legitimate authority because an authority that suspends the natural law is necessarily illegitimate e.

On some interpretations of Locke e. Pitkinconsent is not even necessary for legitimate political authority; it is only a marker of illegitimacy. Whether an actual political regime respects the constraints of the natural law is thus at least one factor that determines its legitimacy.

This criterion of legitimacy is negative: When a political authority fails to secure consent or oversteps the boundaries of the natural law, it ceases to be legitimate and, therefore, there is no longer an obligation to obey its commands. For Locke—unlike for Hobbes—political authority can thus not be absolute.

John Simmons uses them to argue that we should distinguish between the moral justification of states in general and the political legitimacy of actual states. I will come back to this point in section 3. Joseph Raz links legitimacy to the justification of political authority.

According to Raz, political authority is just a special case of the more general concept of authority, He defines authority in relation to a claim—of a person or an agency—to generate what he calls pre-emptive reasons. Such reasons replace other reasons for action that people might have.

For example, if a teacher asks her students to do some homework, she expects her say-so to give the students reason to do the homework.

Authority is effective, on this view, if it gets people to act on the reasons it generates.Smith explains how Robert Paul Wolff and Immanuel Kant used the same principle of moral autonomy to reach opposite conclusions about the legitimacy of the state.

In , the philosopher Robert Paul Wolff published a remarkable little book, In Defense of Anarchism, which . The utilitarian account of political obligation can accept that there are many types of reasons explaining why broad expectations concerning individual and group behavior are created, and each type of reason can be understood as supporting the.

All states need a degree of legitimacy to govern effectively.

A discussion on the justification of the state and state legitimacy

Understanding when citizens are likely to confer or withdraw legitimacy requires investigating social norms. The depth and durability of a state’s legitimacy has direct effects on the feasibility of development processes, and on the effectiveness of external efforts to support them.

Role of social protection in building state legitimacy 22 4 Discussion 25 What we found 25 Policy implications of findings 27 5 Conclusion 28 Table 1: Geographic/demographic selection for this study 10 the justification of state authority.

It is also subject to citizens’ expectations and perceptions. How Not to Justify the State: Robert Nozick’s Attempt 1.

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My main purpose here will be a fairly modest one. I will be criticizing a single attempt to justify the state as a morally legitimate institution. In my defense I would point out that this particular attempt is an important and persuasive one: namely, the one that Robert Nozick presents in Part I of .

A discussion on the justification of the state and state legitimacy

A Discussion on Justification Resident Faculty, W. Robert Godfrey | February 1, | Type: Articles On November 20, the Evangelical Theological Society, meeting in Orlando, Florida, held a panel discussion of the documents “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” and “The Gift of Salvation.”.

How Not to Justify the State