Law and Philosophy

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 495–524 | Cite as

Sovereignty as Autonomy

  • Raf GeenensEmail author


Many philosophers, past and present, have attempted to eradicate the notion of sovereignty. The most interesting and most ambitious attempt to do so, comes from those philosophers who claim that sovereignty is in principle incompatible with the rule of law. The purpose of this paper is to repel this latter attack. In order to do so, I investigate the analogy between sovereignty and individual autonomy. The resulting conception of sovereignty, ‘sovereignty as autonomy’, shows that sovereignty and the rule of law are utterly compatible. At the same time, this conception conserves what I believe to be the normative core of our modern notion of sovereignty: when speaking of sovereignty, we invoke the perspective from which a political community can consciously understand itself as an autonomous agent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Philosophy – RIPPLEKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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