Multiple normative theorists currently link political authority to democratic political procedures. I explore how proponents of this influential view can address a fundamental, but overlooked, puzzle. The puzzle begins from the firm judgment that even a government that keeps democratic procedures intact loses its general authority if it enacts abhorrent major laws. This judgment means that the moral failure of some laws can dissolve the moral authority of other laws—even ones that are quite distinct in their content. But how can we explain these systemic effects of specific laws? I confront this challenge by introducing a global perspective into the discussion of political authority. First, I suggest that we should only adopt an account of systemic effects that can explain how the worst global conduct dissolves a government's general authority. Second, after developing such an account, I use it to reflect on thornier global cases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations