Philosophy

A Short Note on Comparing the Legitimacy of Authority

The following is an argument I started making in my paper, only to realize it didn’t fit in with the prompt I am writing to. Still, for some reason (perhaps translucently clear to me), this argument intrigues me and touches something deep inside me. I decide to share here, and perhaps I will expand on this idea more in the future.

According to Raz, once an authority has met his three theses, the Dependence, Preemption and Normal Justification Theses (1), they are legitimate. Efficiency, then, is not a sufficient factor in determining the legitimacy of an authority. The legitimacy of an authority is dependent on whether there is a job to be done, and if an authority’s decrees allow the job to be done well. Laws are not necessarily dependent on how well a job is done, for once the threshold for determining the legitimacy of an authority has been met, and as long as the authority continues to be just and not step out of its limits, the authority and its commands are legitimate. Determining the legitimacy of an authority is not a comparative analysis – one authority not more legitimate than another because the other is less efficient. An authority is good simply because it has passed the three tests Raz puts forth to determine the legitimacy of an authority.

(1) See The Morality of Freedom by Joseph Raz, Chapter 3.

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