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Consent and political legitimacy

Greene, AR; (2016) Consent and political legitimacy. Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy , 2 pp. 71-97. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198759621.001.0001. Green open access

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Abstract

Consent plays a leading role in many theories of political legitimacy. Two approaches to theorizing about why consent matters for legitimacy have been dominant: the hypothetical consent approach, which argues that a regime is legitimate insofar as all of its subjects would agree to it under idealized conditions, and the express consent approach, which argues that a regime is legitimate for each subject insofar as that subject has expressly consented to it. In this paper, I argue that both views involve unacceptable idealizations. Instead, I develop and defend a new conception of political legitimacy based on actual consent. According to this view, a state is legitimate insofar as it achieves actual quality consent to rule. Quality consent obtains when a subject consents to her state on the basis of a judgment of governance success, provided that the judgment does not conflict with the government’s minimal aim, i.e. basic security for all subjects. The view that I develop, therefore, values consent to rule in a novel way, permitting it to count in favor of legitimacy even when it is not unanimous. Accordingly, a state comes to be legitimate by governing in such a way as to be widely recognized as doing so successfully by its subjects.

Type: Article
Title: Consent and political legitimacy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198759621.001.0001
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nan.1230710.1093/acprof:...
Language: English
Additional information: Greene, AR; (2016) Consent and political legitimacy. Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, 2 pp. 71-97. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198759621.001.0001.
Keywords: legitimacy, contractualism, consent, voluntarism, political authority, anarchism
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1517822
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