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LegitimacyThe State and Beyond$
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Wojciech Sadurski, Michael Sevel, and Kevin Walton

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198825265

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198825265.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 September 2021

Perfectionist Liberalism and the Legitimacy of International Law

Perfectionist Liberalism and the Legitimacy of International Law

(p.206) X Perfectionist Liberalism and the Legitimacy of International Law

Michael Sevel

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Joseph Raz’s perfectionist liberalism, an alternative to liberal neutrality. Perfectionists, unlike neutralists, have done little to extend their view beyond the state to international law and institutions. It considers whether perfectionist liberalism can be a theory of legitimacy in this sphere. The discussion focuses on the neutralist worry that the moral pluralism and the conception of autonomy that are aspects of Raz’s view fail to respect moral diversity and the equal standing of citizens across state boundaries. In particular, it looks at Martha Nussbaum’s claim that Raz’s liberalism is less stable than John Rawls’s because it is incompatible with the moral views of many people. The chapter argues that this critique is not persuasive in the state context and, even if it were compelling, it would be less so in the suprastate context, due to well-known attributes of international institutions, including their limited jurisdiction and their relatively limited capacity to enforce norms and decisions.

Keywords:   legitimacy, international law, liberalism, perfectionism, diversity, neutrality, pluralism, autonomy, Joseph Raz, John Rawls

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