Theory of Politics and Political Legitimacy

Research paper by Jean-Marc Coicaud

Indexed on: 27 Sep '19Published on: 26 Sep '19Published in: Chinese Political Science Review


The article explores the centrality of the issue of legitimacy in politics and theory of politics. First, it shows that in terms of epistemology and methodology, addressing the question of political legitimacy calls for being mindful of the specificity of social reality, as contrasted with physical reality. Second, it demonstrates that the centrality of political legitimacy presumes an understanding and analysis of politics as community. From this perspective, while a legitimacy approach to politics presupposes the existence of and need for power, it also presupposes that this power is not self-centered and primarily at the service of power holders. Rather the legitimacy of power rests on recognizing and fulfilling in a very significant manner a sense of responsibility toward the members of the community and the community itself.