Extending Liberal Legitimacy

Beyond the State and the Present

  • Period: 2021-01-01 – 2024-12-31
  • Funder: Swedish Research Council
  • Type of funding: Grant for positions or stipends


According to the Liberal Principle of Legitimacy – a highly influential view among liberal political philosophers - normative political legitimacy requires justifiability to all citizens. In this project I consider a new and radical revision of this idea: that legitimacy requires justifiability to non-citizens and future citizens as well. These persons have the same fundamental moral status as citizens do, and their lives and opportunities can be affected in major ways by the actions of governments of states of which they are not members. Prima facie, this suggest that justifiability to them should be required as well. I aim to consider the possible ways of motivating this extension of the view; how to best incorporate this extension into the principle, and whether it necessitates any further revisions; and what the implications for the boundaries of legitimate political action will be. The account of political legitimacy that the project aims to develop is innovative as an interpretation of liberal legitimacy. But it is also a novel contribution to the broader literature on political legitimacy in that it departs from the classical focus on the subjects of the state as the primary subjects of relevance for political legitimacy.