The Priority of Legitimacy in Times of Political Transition

Human Rights Review 14 (4):327-345 (2013)
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This paper interprets the relation between justice and legitimacy found in John Rawls's Political Liberalism and then applies it to the field of transitional justice. The author argues that transitional mechanisms can be better defended in terms of “legitimacy” than in “justice,” because the circumstances of transitional justice admit of reasonable disagreement over “just” public policy. In such circumstances, policy recommendations can always be construed as falling short of justice, thus raising plausible concerns over their normative justification. This paper attempts to answer such concerns by justifying transitional mechanisms as morally appropriate yet less than fully just. The author explains how the concept of legitimacy facilitates such a justification and how such a justification can secure the normative grounds that are ironically threatened by investigations relying on a concept of justice



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Michael Buckley
Lehman College (CUNY)

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Justice as fairness: a restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The law of peoples.John Rawls - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Edited by John Rawls.

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