UCL Faculty of Laws


Hybrid | The Logic of Legitimacy

07 June 2022, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm

image of lady justice

This event is organised by the Institute for Laws, Politics and Philosophy (ILPP)

Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws

Please note that the time allocated for this colloquia will be devoted to discussion of the paper.

Speaker: Dr Amanda Greene (UCL)

About the Paper

All governments claim to be legitimate. But what is legitimacy exactly, and why does it matter? In my view, today’s crisis of legitimacy goes deeper than the state’s exercise of power. It is hard to find any organization in contemporary society that is still the object of broad-based respect and observance, of the sort that would testify to its legitimacy. If there are virtually no institutions – social, economic, cultural — that both merit and receive widespread recognition, then we have entered a unique stage of history. Should we lament this pervasive loss of legitimacy? In this paper I explore whether there is anything general to be said about legitimacy and its value. As I understand it, questions of legitimacy arise in light of the supposed rationale of an institution – whether it is a business, a charity, or a government. For a wide variety of institutions and practices, there is a raison d'être – a claim that, if fulfilled, would justify the existence of the institution. I propose that an institution’s legitimacy depends on this claim being fulfilled in such a way that its fulfillment is recognized by the relevant audience. In politics as well as other domains, my account of legitimacy rests on widespread acceptance of valuable forms of social order. The view thus avoids the reduction of legitimacy to other modes of evaluation such as utility, autonomy, rights, democracy, and justice. Instead, legitimacy stands on its own as a distinct good that is worth promoting for its own sake.

About the Speaker

Amanda Greene is an Associate Professor at University College London, where she teaches legal and political philosophy. Her research examines political legitimacy, democracy, free speech, human rights, the morality of markets, and Plato’s legal philosophy. Her work has been published in Law and Philosophy, European Journal of Philosophy, and Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. She is currently completing a book entitled The Morality of Power: Legitimacy in Politics, Business, and Civil Society, under contract with Oxford University Press. She received her Ph.D. at Stanford University, M.Phil. at Oxford University, and B.A. at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has held research fellowships at the University of Chicago Law School, Columbia University, Princeton University, and IHEID (Geneva). Before entering academia, she worked as a strategy consultant in the private and non-profit sectors in the United States, India, and Australia.

About the Institute

The Institute brings together political and legal theorists from Law, Political Science and Philosophy and organises regular colloquia in terms 2 and 3. If you would like to be added to the ILPP mailing list please contact us at laws-events@ucl.ac.uk

Book your place

This seminar will be held as hybrid event and will allow a small in-person (at UCL Laws, Bentham House) audience as well as a online audience. If you secure a place in-person but fall sick or are no longer able to attend do contact us at laws-event@ucl.ac.uk and we can transfer your ticket to an online one. 

Book an In-Person Ticket

For our online audience this seminar will be delivered via Zoom Meeting. Attendee cameras can be turned on however microphones will need to be turned off unless when contributing to discussions or putting forward a question for our guest speaker. You will receive your zoom joining link on registration, as well as a link to the paper. Contact the Laws Events team (laws-events@ucl.ac.uk) if you have not received the link.

Book an Online Ticket