Self-restraint and the Principle of Consent: Some considerations of the Liberal Conception of Political Legitmacy

Stefan Grotefeld
March 2000
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Mar2000, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p77
Academic Journal
This article discusses the legitimacy argument on which many liberals ground their demand for restraining the use of religious convictions in processes of political deliberation and decision making. According to this argument the exercise of political power can only be justified by 'neutral' grounds, i.e. grounds that are able to find reciprocal, hypothetical consent. The author argues that this understanding of political legitimacy is not distinctive of the liberal tradition. His thesis is that reciprocal, hypothetical consent is not sufficient and only in a certain, restricted sense necessary for justifying the use of political power.


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