13th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Brinkmann

Matthias Brinkmann

Do Intentions Matter for Political Legitimacy

There has been little direct attention in political philosophy to the importance of intentions to legitimacy. To make some headway, I explore an analogy between individual and political morality. Moral anti-intentionalists have claimed that whether your actions are permissible is independent from the intentions from which you act. This suggests an analogous claim for political morality: whether the decisions of a government are legitimate is largely independent from the intentions and reasons for which government acts. I explain what the best version of this view is, and argue that if you find anti-intentionalism about permissibility plausible, then you should also be an anti-intentionalist about political legitimacy.