Understanding Legitimacy: Political Theory And Neo-calvinist Social Thought by Philip D. ShaddUnderstanding Legitimacy: Political Theory And Neo-calvinist Social Thought by Philip D. Shadd

Understanding Legitimacy: Political Theory And Neo-calvinist Social Thought

byPhilip D. Shadd

Hardcover | December 13, 2016

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In recent years, political theorists have increasingly focused on the question of legitimacy rather than on justice. The question of legitimacy asks: even if legal coercion falls short of being perfectly just, what nonetheless makes it morally legitimate? Yet legitimacy remains poorly understood. According to the regnant theory of justificatory liberalism, legitimate legal coercion is based on reasons all reasonable persons can accept and is conceived in terms of a hypothetical procedure. Philip Shadd argues that this view would effectively de-legitimize all laws given its requirement of unanimity; it wrongly suggests that basic rights are outcomes of political procedures rather than checks on such procedures; and it is paternalistic as it substitutes hypothetical persons for actual persons. Where should theorists turn? Shadd's perhaps surprising proposal is that they turn to neo-Calvinism. Founded by the Dutch politician, theologian, and social theorist, Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), neo-Calvinism is a specific variant of Reformed social thought unique for its emphasis on institutional pluralism. It has long theorized themes such as church-state separation, religious diversity, and both individual and institutional liberty. Out of this tradition Shadd reconstructs an alternative framework for legitimacy. The central neo-Calvinist insight is this: legitimacy is a function of preventing basic wrongs. The book develops this insight in terms of three ideas. First, the wrongs that legitimate regimes must prevent are violations of objective natural rights. Second, these rights and wrongs presuppose some or another view of basic human flourishing. Third, Shadd suggests we understand these rights and wrongs as being exogenous. That is, they are not social constructions, but arise outside of human societies even while applying to them. While based in a religious tradition of thought, religious intolerance is no part of this neo-Calvinist theory of legitimacy and, in fact, runs contrary to neo-Calvinism's distinctive institutional pluralism. But only by theorizing legitimacy along the lines Shadd suggests can we make sense of convictions such as that some legal coercion is legitimate even amidst disagreement and that paternalistic coercion is illegitimate. Neo-Calvinism offers a better framework for understanding legitimacy. This book will be of particular interest to secular theorists focusing on themes of political legitimacy, public reason, justificatory (or political) liberalism, or the work of John Rawls, and to religious theorists focused on theories of church-state separation, institutional pluralism, and religious diversity.
Philip Shadd is a research associate of the Centre for Philosophy, Religion & Social Ethics (CPRSE) at the Institute for Christian Studies.
Title:Understanding Legitimacy: Political Theory And Neo-calvinist Social ThoughtFormat:HardcoverDimensions:216 pages, 9.37 × 6.27 × 0.82 inPublished:December 13, 2016Publisher:Lexington BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1498518966

ISBN - 13:9781498518963

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction Part I - JL Legitimacy Chapter 2: Clarifying the Question and Surveying the JL AnswerChapter 3: A First Unacceptable Consequence of JLChapter 4: A Second Unacceptable Consequence of JLChapter 5: A Third Worry about JL Part II - The Neo-Calvinist Alternative Chapter 6: An Outline of Neo-Calvinist ThoughtChapter 7: A Neo-Calvinist Theory of Legitimacy Part III - JL and Neo-Calvinist Legitimacy in Dialogue Chapter 8: Is Consent Needed to Justify Coercion?Chapter 9: The Human Flourishing TieChapter 10: How to Steer Clear of PaternalismChapter 11: Conclusion

Editorial Reviews

According to public reason liberalism, the exercise of political power must be acceptable to the full range of reasonable religious and philosophical doctrines that exist in a modern democracy. Phil Shad argues that the practical implications of this view are deeply at odds with common sense moral commitments. He offers an intriguing neo-Calvinist alternative, according to which legitimacy depends not on unanimous acceptability but on preventing basic wrongs. The result is a powerful challenge to today's dominant form of liberal theory.