This thesis aims at sketching an account of legitimacy that stands in-between Weber’s and Williams’. The effort is to combine a beliefs-based concept of legitimacy with internal standards that allows to normatively evaluate political authority. Giving relevance to individuals’ beliefs is important because it is a way to seriously consider people’s experience of being subjected to power and, possibly, their feeling of being arbitrarily ruled. This dimension is often put aside, even within political realist accounts. In fact, the task of giving relevance to individuals’ perspective does not depend on the political – as opposed to moral – nature of the standards of legitimacy; rather, it depends on the internality or externality of those standards. In this dissertation, I start with the elaboration of a minimal concept of legitimacy, which stands as a common denominator for different conceptions. The concept aims at illustrating how people conceive the relation between political power, legitimacy and the external world. Accordingly, I claim that legitimacy is a characteristic that can be ascribed to a political regime. That ascription depends on the perceived positive qualities of a regime by a subject. Their positivity depends on what the subject considers important either for herself directly, or for the world she is living in. According to this view, people express their belief in legitimacy as following: “the regime has the quality x; x is a positive quality for a regime to be legitimate; therefore, the regime is legitimate”. Legitimacy is connected to the positivity of the regime, be it in terms of performance or source of power. The only requirement a belief in legitimacy has to fulfil is to pass the coherence test, namely, to derive the final judgement about the regime (il)legitimacy from consistent premises. The duty to pass the coherence test represents a minimal epistemic threshold, and has the advantage of being a standard internal to the belief. Besides, it has implication on the practical level, because it pushes toward the creation of what I called the public debate space, an ideal place where individuals’ beliefs are exposed and challenged by other interlocutors. Depending on what is the feature x included in the belief, I elaborate four conceptions of legitimacy: a legal conception, based on the value of law; a rational conception, based on the value of security; a moral conception, based on the value of morality; and, finally, a symbolic conception, based on the values of trust and care. All of them are potentially capable of passing the coherence test, but the symbolic one has a higher level of emotionality in the elaboration of the belief and it can be the result of fascination by the individual toward a leader, or toward a certain ideology; in contrast, legal, moral and rational ones are built on features the content of which is usually highly rationalised. Notwithstanding, there is a reciprocal need between symbolic and non-symbolic conceptions of legitimacy. On one hand, the non-symbolic conceptions irrevocably include both the notions of trust and care; on the other hand, the symbolic conception is likely to merge into one of the non-symbolic in order to pass the coherence test. Besides, symbols are intrinsic to the political language. Therefore, the effort is to appreciate the symbols’ influence in building both the identity of a political community and a shared conception of legitimacy. Assuming that there is nothing like an objective hierarchy of values, from which we can glean the principles that ground our conceptions of legitimacy, and given the vast amount of values people may engage with, the problem is to explain how to get to a shared truth about how a certain political community should be shaped. Here is where the symbolic mechanisms play a central role: they have both a definitional and a promotional role. After all, the expression of a belief in legitimacy is, at the same time, the communication of a standard the regime should satisfy in order to be recognized as legitimate. Such standards have a bottom-up origin and their content depends on individuals’ vision of the world and system of values. On the other side, the regime has at least an instrumental interest in complying individuals’ requirements. Indeed, stability is normally not guaranteed by the sole use of physical coercion. Notwithstanding, this does not exclude the possibility of a regime truly available to set a political order that reflects people’s requirements. The availability of the regime to genuinely comply people’s requirements says something further about its legitimacy. Here we get to the second definition I provide in the dissertation. Accordingly, legitimacy is the characteristic of a regime where individuals considers themselves as the authors, or sources, of their own political obligations. This definition contributes to the normativity of the concept of legitimacy, at least in its theoretical formulation. On the practical level, though, such a normativity is the result of the potential normativity of people’s conceptions of legitimacy; in other words, legitimacy gets a normative concept when the conceptions people elaborate are normatively rich.

BUILDING LEGITIMACY FROM INDIVIDUALS' BELIEFS. THE ROLE OF SYMBOLS IN EVALUATING POLITICAL AUTHORITY / I. Cozzaglio ; tutor: A. Besussi; coordinatore: F. Zucchini. - : . DIPARTIMENTO DI SCIENZE SOCIALI E POLITICHE, 2018 Jan 25. ((30. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2017. [10.13130/cozzaglio-ilaria_phd2018-01-25].

BUILDING LEGITIMACY FROM INDIVIDUALS' BELIEFS. THE ROLE OF SYMBOLS IN EVALUATING POLITICAL AUTHORITY

I. Cozzaglio
2018

Abstract

This thesis aims at sketching an account of legitimacy that stands in-between Weber’s and Williams’. The effort is to combine a beliefs-based concept of legitimacy with internal standards that allows to normatively evaluate political authority. Giving relevance to individuals’ beliefs is important because it is a way to seriously consider people’s experience of being subjected to power and, possibly, their feeling of being arbitrarily ruled. This dimension is often put aside, even within political realist accounts. In fact, the task of giving relevance to individuals’ perspective does not depend on the political – as opposed to moral – nature of the standards of legitimacy; rather, it depends on the internality or externality of those standards. In this dissertation, I start with the elaboration of a minimal concept of legitimacy, which stands as a common denominator for different conceptions. The concept aims at illustrating how people conceive the relation between political power, legitimacy and the external world. Accordingly, I claim that legitimacy is a characteristic that can be ascribed to a political regime. That ascription depends on the perceived positive qualities of a regime by a subject. Their positivity depends on what the subject considers important either for herself directly, or for the world she is living in. According to this view, people express their belief in legitimacy as following: “the regime has the quality x; x is a positive quality for a regime to be legitimate; therefore, the regime is legitimate”. Legitimacy is connected to the positivity of the regime, be it in terms of performance or source of power. The only requirement a belief in legitimacy has to fulfil is to pass the coherence test, namely, to derive the final judgement about the regime (il)legitimacy from consistent premises. The duty to pass the coherence test represents a minimal epistemic threshold, and has the advantage of being a standard internal to the belief. Besides, it has implication on the practical level, because it pushes toward the creation of what I called the public debate space, an ideal place where individuals’ beliefs are exposed and challenged by other interlocutors. Depending on what is the feature x included in the belief, I elaborate four conceptions of legitimacy: a legal conception, based on the value of law; a rational conception, based on the value of security; a moral conception, based on the value of morality; and, finally, a symbolic conception, based on the values of trust and care. All of them are potentially capable of passing the coherence test, but the symbolic one has a higher level of emotionality in the elaboration of the belief and it can be the result of fascination by the individual toward a leader, or toward a certain ideology; in contrast, legal, moral and rational ones are built on features the content of which is usually highly rationalised. Notwithstanding, there is a reciprocal need between symbolic and non-symbolic conceptions of legitimacy. On one hand, the non-symbolic conceptions irrevocably include both the notions of trust and care; on the other hand, the symbolic conception is likely to merge into one of the non-symbolic in order to pass the coherence test. Besides, symbols are intrinsic to the political language. Therefore, the effort is to appreciate the symbols’ influence in building both the identity of a political community and a shared conception of legitimacy. Assuming that there is nothing like an objective hierarchy of values, from which we can glean the principles that ground our conceptions of legitimacy, and given the vast amount of values people may engage with, the problem is to explain how to get to a shared truth about how a certain political community should be shaped. Here is where the symbolic mechanisms play a central role: they have both a definitional and a promotional role. After all, the expression of a belief in legitimacy is, at the same time, the communication of a standard the regime should satisfy in order to be recognized as legitimate. Such standards have a bottom-up origin and their content depends on individuals’ vision of the world and system of values. On the other side, the regime has at least an instrumental interest in complying individuals’ requirements. Indeed, stability is normally not guaranteed by the sole use of physical coercion. Notwithstanding, this does not exclude the possibility of a regime truly available to set a political order that reflects people’s requirements. The availability of the regime to genuinely comply people’s requirements says something further about its legitimacy. Here we get to the second definition I provide in the dissertation. Accordingly, legitimacy is the characteristic of a regime where individuals considers themselves as the authors, or sources, of their own political obligations. This definition contributes to the normativity of the concept of legitimacy, at least in its theoretical formulation. On the practical level, though, such a normativity is the result of the potential normativity of people’s conceptions of legitimacy; in other words, legitimacy gets a normative concept when the conceptions people elaborate are normatively rich.
BESUSSI, ANTONELLA
BESUSSI, ANTONELLA
Settore SPS/01 - Filosofia Politica
BUILDING LEGITIMACY FROM INDIVIDUALS' BELIEFS. THE ROLE OF SYMBOLS IN EVALUATING POLITICAL AUTHORITY / I. Cozzaglio ; tutor: A. Besussi; coordinatore: F. Zucchini. - : . DIPARTIMENTO DI SCIENZE SOCIALI E POLITICHE, 2018 Jan 25. ((30. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2017. [10.13130/cozzaglio-ilaria_phd2018-01-25].
Doctoral Thesis
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/545345
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