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Political LegitimacyNOMOS LXI$
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Jack Knight and Melissa Schwartzberg

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479888696

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479888696.001.0001

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Legitimacy and Self-Determination

Legitimacy and Self-Determination

(p.9) 1 Legitimacy and Self-Determination
Political Legitimacy

Anna Stilz

NYU Press

While most traditional liberal theories hold that the justice of a state’s institutions suffices to ground a right to govern its population and territory, I argue that these theories face an important challenge: They are unable to distinguish between domestic and foreign rule, and they may even license benign colonialism. Drawing on Kant’s political writings, I argue that we should revise these traditional liberal theories, recognizing the importance of a second, self-determination dimension to state legitimacy. To be legitimate, a state must not only provide certain minimum conditions of justice to its population; it must also satisfy their interest in collective self-determination, in being authors of their political institutions. This chapter offers a specific account of this interest, which I call the political autonomy theory. To fully respect autonomy, individuals must not only enjoy certain rights over their own personal lives; they must also be part of a collective that pursues justice through rules they choose through the exercise of their own rational deliberative agency.

Keywords:   legitimacy, justice, self-determination, colonialism, Kant

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