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Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, Volume 2$
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David Sobel, Peter Vallentyne, and Steven Wall

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198759621

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198759621.001.0001

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Consent and Political Legitimacy

Consent and Political Legitimacy

Chapter:
(p.71) 3 Consent and Political Legitimacy
Source:
Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, Volume 2
Author(s):

Amanda Greene

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198759621.003.0004

This chapter addresses the topic of the legitimacy of the state, in the sense of having the appropriate standing to exercise power over its subjects. The chapter argues that both the contractualist view (based on hypothetical consent) and the voluntarist view (based on actual consent) involve unacceptable idealizations. The chapter then develops and defends the sovereignty conception, according to which a regime 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 chapter argues that a state comes to be legitimate by governing in such a way as to be widely recognized as doing so successfully by its subjects.

Keywords:   legitimacy, contractualism, voluntarism, consent, sovereignty

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