Justice, Legitimacy and (Normative) Authority for Political Realists

Critical Review of Social and International Political Philosophy, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 149-164, 2012

17 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2012

Date Written: February 10, 2010

Abstract

One of the main challenges faced by realists in political philosophy is that of offering an account of authority that is genuinely normative and yet does not consist of a moralistic application of general, abstract ethical principles to the practice of politics. Political moralists typically start by devising a conception of justice based on their pre-political moral commitments; authority would then be legitimate only if political power is exercised in accordance with justice. As an alternative to that dominant approach I put forward the idea that upturning the relationship between justice and legitimacy affords a normative notion of authority that does not depend on a pre-political account of morality, and thus avoids some serious problems faced by mainstream theories of justice. I then argue that the appropriate purpose of justice is simply to specify the implementation of an independently grounded conception of legitimacy, which in turn rests on a context- and practice-sensitive understanding of the purpose of political power.

Keywords: justice, legitimacy, realism, moralism

Suggested Citation

Rossi, Enzo, Justice, Legitimacy and (Normative) Authority for Political Realists (February 10, 2010). Critical Review of Social and International Political Philosophy, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 149-164, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2013263

Enzo Rossi (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Department of Political Science
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 237
Amsterdam, 1012 DL
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://uva.academia.edu/EnzoRossi

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