Legitimacy and two roles for flourishing in politics

Journal of Political Philosophy 31 (3):294-314 (2023)
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May the state try to promote the flourishing of its citizens? Some political philosophers—perfectionists—hold that the state may do so, while other political philosophers—anti-perfectionists—hold that the state may not do so. Here I examine how perfectionists might respond to a style of argument that anti-perfectionists give—what I call the legitimacy objection. This argument holds that considerations about flourishing are not themselves the right kind of considerations to justify state authority, and so if the state takes action to promote the flourishing of its citizens, it is meddling in issues that are beyond the legitimate scope of its authority. I argue that this objection only shows that considerations about flourishing cannot themselves legitimate state action, but that they may still guide the state and state officials when they are deciding among policy options that are legitimate for non-perfectionist reasons.



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Paul Garofalo
University of Southern California

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Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Force and freedom: Kant's legal and political philosophy.Arthur Ripstein - 2009 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
Justification and legitimacy.A. John Simmons - 1999 - Ethics 109 (4):739-771.
Legitimacy, Unanimity, and Perfectionism.Joseph Chan - 2000 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (1):5-42.

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