Political legitimacy

Paul Patton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


These comments take issue with two aspects of the treatment of Rawls in On The People’s Terms. First, I criticize the characterization of Rawls as downplaying political liberties and focusing instead on social justice. Second, I take issue with the claim that Pettit provides a more robust conception of legitimacy than Rawls. The basis for this claim is that Rawls, along with others in the Kantian tradition, downplays the question of legitimacy by ‘going hypothetical’. Yet in common with Rawls, Pettit’s republican conception of legitimacy imposes a stringent test of legitimacy that many democratic regimes would not pass. This leads him to propose a weaker standard of ‘legitimizability’ that appears to involve the same kind of counterfactual judgment for which Rawls is criticized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 661-668
Number of pages9
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Acceptability
  • Counterfactual
  • Justice
  • Legitimizable
  • Political legitimacy
  • Political liberties
  • Rawls


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