Encyclopedia of Global Justice

2011 Edition
| Editors: Deen K. Chatterjee

Moral Legitimacy

  • Fred E. Foldvary
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_333

Something is legitimate when it conforms to rules. The rules can be logical, moral, customary, institutional, or legal. Global justice requires the global implementation of moral legitimacy, based on universal moral principles.

The term “legitimacy” derives from the Latin word “legitimare,” meaning “to make lawful,” stemming in turn from “legi,” the law. Legal legitimacy means in accordance with the law, such as the law prescribing heredity for legitimate heirs.

Customary legitimacy means in accord with traditions and the rules of religions and customs. For example, a legitimate complaint is made against an action that is not within the customary rules, such as, for example, a neighbor making more noise than is customary. Institutional legitimacy means moral legitimacy applied to an institution, as people pass judgment on whether an institution such as the land tenure system fulfils moral criteria.

Moral legitimacy means in accord with the rules of an ethic. For example, a government...

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  4. Thoreau HD (1849 [2008]) On the duty of civil disobedience [resistance to civil government]. Manor, Rockville, MDGoogle Scholar
  5. Yankelovich D (1974) A crisis of moral legitimacy. Dissent (Fall). http://www.danyankelovich.com/acrisis.pdf

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred E. Foldvary
    • 1
  1. 1.Civil Society InstituteSanta Clara UniversitySanta ClaraUSA