The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: EventsThursday, 25 November 2021, 11:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University
Thomas Fossen (Leiden University)
»Facing Authority: Legitimacy, Judgment, and the Practical Point of View«
When your friends call on you to take to the streets and demand the fall of the regime, this brings into sharp focus a question that we all address, often implicitly, in our everyday lives: how to respond practically to the forms of power with which we find ourselves confronted? Facing Authority investigates the ways in which this question of legitimacy can be addressed in theory and practice. The book develops a novel philosophical approach to political legitimacy, interweaving systematic conceptual analysis with examples of real-life struggles for legitimacy, from the German Autumn to the Arab Spring. Instead of asking »what makes authorities legitimate?« in the abstract, it investigates how the question of legitimacy manifests itself in practice, from a first-person perspective. The book argues that judging legitimacy is not a matter of applying moral knowledge, provided by political philosophy, but of engaging in various forms of political contestation—contestation over the representation of power (what is the nature of the regime?), collective selfhood (who am I, and who are we?), and common history (what happened here—a coup, or a revolution?). Only by treating the political activities of portraying power, articulating identity, and narrating events as integral to judging legitimacy, rather than prior to it, can we do justice to the circumstances of disagreement and uncertainty in which the question of legitimacy arises, and the concrete dilemmas and risks to which it exposes us.
Thomas Fossen is University Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Political Philosophy at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He received his PhD from Utrecht University in 2011, worked as a postdoc and lecturer at the universities of Utrecht and Leiden, and held visiting positions at the University of Chicago, KU Leuven and the University of Essex. In 2020–2021 he was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
Participation and registration
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