Just 'Cause You're Smarter than Me Doesn't Give You a Right to Tell Me What to Do: Legitimate Authority and the Normal Justification Thesis

29 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2005  

Kenneth Einar Himma

University of Washington - School of Law

Date Written: August 23, 2005

Abstract

La versión española de este artículo se puede encontrar en:http://ssrn.com/abstract=2433220

Joseph Raz's famous theory of authority is grounded in three claims about the nature and justification of authority. According to the Preemption Thesis, authoritative directives purport to replace the subject's judgments about what she should do. According to the Dependence Thesis, authoritative directives should be based on reasons that actually apply to the subjects of the directive. According to the Normal Justification Thesis (NJT), authority is justified to the extent that subjects are more likely to comply with right reason by following the authority's directives than by following their own judgments about what right reason requires. In this essay, I consider a number of ways in which NJT might be construed as a justification for authority. First, I evaluate NJT construed as a principle that would provide a practical justification for an individual to accept or recognize a particular person or persons as a preemptive authority. Second, I evaluate NJT construed as a principle that describes the conditions under which a state or legal system is morally legitimate. I argue that NJT is true under none of these interpretations.

Keywords: legitimacy, legitimate, authority, justification of authority, normal justification thesis, Raz

Suggested Citation

Himma, Kenneth Einar, Just 'Cause You're Smarter than Me Doesn't Give You a Right to Tell Me What to Do: Legitimate Authority and the Normal Justification Thesis (August 23, 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=788746 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.788746

Kenneth Einar Himma (Contact Author)

University of Washington - School of Law ( email )

William Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98195-3020
United States
206-543-4550 (Phone)

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