Injustice, Reparation, and Legitimacy
Forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, vol. 5
39 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2018
Date Written: August 22, 2018
Legitimate states have the right to rule over specific people and territory. This right to rule is not immutable. A state’s wrongdoing can undermine its legitimacy. Likewise, acts of reparation can bolster a state’s legitimacy. Because injustice and reparation can directly affect a state’s legitimacy, any adequate theory of political legitimacy must be able to account for these phenomena. However, many prominent theories of legitimacy cannot straightforwardly account for the significance of injustice and reparation. We demonstrate this point by analyzing A. John Simmons’s voluntarist theory of legitimacy. Although Simmons accepts many of the effects we identify, his theory ultimately fails to explain how injustice can compromise and reparation can bolster a state’s legitimacy. We then describe four strategies for explaining the significance of injustice and reparation, two of which seem particularly promising. We conclude by highlighting some broader implications of our insights for theorizing legitimacy.
Keywords: Political Legitimacy, Injustice, Reparation, A. John Simmons, Voluntarism
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