NP Adams, 'State legitimacy, law, and the political subject'
Nate Adams (University of Victoria)

January 17, 2022, 5:00pm - 6:00pm
University of Oxford

United Kingdom

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ABSTRACT. Theories of state legitimacy require a deontic characterization of both the state and the state’s subject. Classically this characterization is that a legitimate state has the moral right to rule and state subjects correlatively possess a general duty to obey the law. Partly in response to skepticism about such a duty, philosophers have increasingly turned to revised characterizations. These revisionist accounts, however, still focus on the political subject as an exclusively legal subject. In this paper, I argue that this reduction of the political subject to the legal subject is untenable. A successful theory of state legitimacy must characterize our relations to the state in a way that recognizes our necessarily extralegal relation to the state and to the legal regime, including in our collective constituent power. Further, such a theory should take itself seriously as an ideology: as both appealing to and constructing political subjects’ identity. This expands the question of deontic status beyond Hohfeldian incidents to what kind of person our states require us to be. 

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January 17, 2022, 5:00pm BST

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