Control, consent and political legitimacy

Robin Douglass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this essay, I evaluate Philip Pettit’s theory of republican political legitimacy and maintain that it fails to provide a more satisfactory account of legitimacy than consent-based theories. I advance two interrelated theses. First, I argue that in so far as Pettit successfully narrows the scope that his theory of political legitimacy has to address, his arguments could be adapted to support consent-based theories. Second, I argue that Pettit’s theory fails to satisfy the high standards it sets for itself and is thus unsuccessful. My critique focuses on Pettit’s notions of historical, political and normative necessity, before evaluating whether his requirement of equally individualised popular control of government should be endorsed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-140
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number2
Early online date12 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • consent
  • control
  • republicanism
  • Philip Pettit


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