Institutional Legitimacy

Journal of Political Philosophy:84-102 (2018)
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Political legitimacy is best understood as one type of a broader notion, which I call institutional legitimacy. An institution is legitimate in my sense when it has the right to function. The right to function correlates to a duty of non-interference. Understanding legitimacy in this way favorably contrasts with legitimacy understood in the traditional way, as the right to rule correlating to a duty of obedience. It helps unify our discourses of legitimacy across a wider range of practices, especially including the many evaluations we increasingly make of international institutions of various sorts, but also including domestic institutions.

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N. P. Adams
University of Virginia


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