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On the value of political legitimacy


  • Mathew Coakley

    (New York University, USA)


Theories of political legitimacy normally stipulate certain conditions of legitimacy: the features a state must possess in order to be legitimate. Yet there is obviously a second question as to the value of legitimacy: the normative features a state has by virtue of it being legitimate (such as it being owed obedience, having a right to use coercion, or enjoying a general justification in the use of force). I argue that it is difficult to demonstrate that affording these to legitimate states is morally desirable, and that obvious alternative conceptions of the value of legitimacy (notably epistemic and instrumental) are not without problems of their own. The intuitive triviality of establishing the value of normative legitimacy may mask a serious problem.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathew Coakley, 2011. "On the value of political legitimacy," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 10(4), pages 345-369, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:10:y:2011:i:4:p:345-369

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