Modus vivendi and legitimacy
some sceptical thoughts
When we enquire into political legitimacy, we are, broadly speaking, exploring the question of whether a particular ruler or regime rules rightfully. We are interested in whether the rule is characterised by right or is merely a form of rule via coercion, a distinction that is usually put in terms of de jure and de facto order. While this question is basic to political experience, there nevertheless might be different ways in which it can be formulated which in turn will influence what is going to count as an adequate answer. In this chapter I want to express some concerns as to the way in which much contemporary modus vivendi theories have either raised the question of political legitimacy or the sort of answer that it takes to be sufficient. That is to say, it has either tended to get the question wrong or the answer, or both. In the end, I want to suggest that modus vivendi can only represent a coherent and distinct political theory if it takes its Hobbesian heritage seriously and accept that the provision of order is both a necessary and a sufficient condition of legitimacy. Whether that is an attractive way of thinking about politics is a different question.
Sleat, M. (2019)., Modus vivendi and legitimacy: some sceptical thoughts, in J. Horton, M. Westphal & U. Willems (eds.), The political theory of modus vivendi, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 185-201.
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