Legitimacy Beyond the State

February 27, 2024 - February 28, 2024
The Australian National University

Room 2.56
RSSS Building, 146 Ellery Crescent
Canberra 2601

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This event is available both online and in-person


University of Virginia
Monash University


Australian National University
Australian National University

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Purpose and Scope
The Legitimacy Beyond the State Workshop aims to advance philosophical research on legitimacy as a normative (as opposed to merely sociological) concept. Philosophers have traditionally applied the concept of legitimacy exclusively to political states, often with special attention to the close relation between states and coercive power. But non-profit organizations, international corporations, interest groups, and other social institutions also wield great power of various kinds over many people. It is worth exploring whether social arrangements like these can be legitimate as well.

This theme raises various questions the workshop can address, including:

  • Does the concept of legitimacy in fact apply beyond the state, or is thinking it does a category mistake?
  • Are non-state arrangements legitimate or illegitimate only insofar as their functions or powers are similar to those of states?
  • How is non-state legitimacy related to other normative concepts, such as rights, power, coercion, consent, etc.?
  • What function should the concept of non-state legitimacy have for us in our daily lives? For instance, does non-state legitimacy bear a significant relation to obedience, resistance, and various forms of activism?
  • If multiple, possibly conflicting institutions can be legitimate, how does their legitimacy depend on each other?

Invited Speakers and Organizers
Invited speakers confirmed for this event include:

Luise K. Müller (Freie Universität Berlin)
Nate Adams (University of Virginia)
Stephanie Collins (Monash University)

Organizers for this event include:
Sean Donahue (Australian National University)
Garrett Cullity (Australian National University)

Time and Place of Workshop
This workshop will be held on the 27th and 28th of February 2024, at the Australian National University, Acton Campus. Some presentations will be online, but most will be in-person. Please email to request online attendence. 

Questions and Assistance
Contact Sean Donahue ([email protected], or Sean.Donahue@anu.edu.au) with any questions about this workshop.  

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