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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg February 13, 2021

The Legitimacy of Groups: Toward a We-Reasoning View

  • Agnes Tam
From the journal Analyse & Kritik


In liberal political philosophy, a prevalent view holds that groups are typically voluntary associations. Members of voluntary associations can accept, revise or reject group practices as a matter of choice. In this article, I challenge this view. Appealing to the concept of joint commitment developed in philosophy of social science, I argue that individuals who jointly commit their wills to a goal or a belief form a ‘We’-group. Members of ‘We’-groups are under an obligation to defer to ‘Our’ will embodied in ‘Our’ norms as a matter of course. I further show the ubiquity of We-groups. This joint commitment account of group authority raises a much-overlooked question of group legitimacy: Do members have good reasons to obey norms of their group? I show that state-centric views of legitimacy are inapt to answer it. A group-centric view, revived from the old communitarian literature, is defended.

Online erschienen: 2021-02-13
Erschienen im Druck: 2020-11-01

© 2020 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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