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Title: Legitimacy as Self-Determination
Authors: Levitov, Alex
Advisors: Beitz, Charles R
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: human rights
Subjects: Political Science
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The theory of political legitimacy seeks to identify the minimum conditions that must be met for a state to enjoy the right to rule over a given territory. This right, as I understand it, comprises two distinct entitlements: an internal right to enforce the law and demand compliance within a particular jurisdiction; and an external right to exclude outsiders and insist on the forbearance of the international community. I argue that both the internal and external aspects of a state's legitimacy ultimately derive from its role in enabling the collective self-determination of its members. The dissertation begins by developing a conception of internal or domestic legitimacy that departs from both the tradition of political voluntarism as well as the leading nonvoluntarist approaches. In contrast to the standard voluntarist account, I maintain that we have a natural duty - binding irrespective of our consent or other voluntary acts - to exit the state of nature and submit to a common system of legal authority. Unlike the prevailing nonvoluntarist theories, however, I reject the notion that our natural duties direct us to establish a highly determinate set of political institutions, as specified by a single, "prepolitical" account of justice or morality. Rather, I argue that we ought to assess a state's right to rule in terms of the norms and values that are internal to its ongoing practices of public justification, in this way allowing significant scope for its members' collective self-determination without collapsing into an a kind of uncritical conventionalism or moral relativism. Finally, although I suggest that modern states must protect their members' human rights as a fundamental condition of their internal legitimacy, I conclude that considerations of self-determination nevertheless set important limits to the permissibility of humanitarian intervention by outside agents in the international community.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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