Alexander KirshnerDec 1, 2022
Yale University Press 2022
The idea of legitimate political opposition is familiar. A decent political order permits citizens, parties, and coalitions to challenge those in power. Under such conditions, there is an ongoing nonviolent contest for power. Typically, the value of legitimate opposition is understood in terms of democracy. Here, the idea is that democracy is damaged or subverted when practices of legitimate opposition are suppressed. However, this familiar account opens questions about the value of legitimate opposition under conditions that are not satisfactorily democratic. It also obscures real-world practices of legitimate opposition that are themselves not allied with democratic norms of equality.
In Legitimate Opposition (Yale 2022), Alexander Kirshner develops and defends a conception of legitimate opposition that’s not so tightly tethered to democracy. On this view, the value of legitimate opposition lies with the value of political agency.
Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.