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K-State Today

April 26, 2017



Bob Simpson to present 'What is Legitimation?'

By Teresa Zerbe

Bob Simpson, department of philosophy at Monash University, will present "What is Legitimation?" at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 27, in 203 Dickens Hall.

Abstract: What sense can we make of a claim like "racist jokes legitimate racial discrimination," if it refers to a social context in which racial discrimination is legally sanctioned, and those sanctions are widely supported? There is a distinctive concept of "legitimation" at work here. But its meaning isn't clear. And as a result, the term sometimes looks more like a rhetorical device than a bona fide critical concept. In this paper, Simpson tries to remedy this. After distinguishing the target concept from some other uses of the term "legitimation," Simpson presents two rival accounts of the target concept. One says: "A legitimates x when A makes x seem normatively legitimate in a local context." The other says: "A legitimates x when A contributes to the descriptive normalization of x in a global context." Simpson argues that legitimation seems like a more credible critical concept if it’s understood according to the second account, and explore some implications of this.

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