Deborah Cook



Legitimacy and Political Violence: A Habermasian Perspective

Cook’s philosophical treatment of legitimacy and political violence focuses primarily on the ideas of Max Weber and new social movement theorist Jürgen Habermas. The essay explores how legitimacy is defined and under what conditions it may be ascribed to states or terrorist organizations. Highly contentious issues emerge in connection with political violence; among these are the innocence of victims, political obligation, as well as rights and rights violations. Cook attempts to deal with the issue of legitimacy as that issue has taken shape in the violent conflicts between terrorist organizations and states and seeks to broach a more critical examination of the notion of legitimacy. Beginning with a review of the social scientific literature, and proceeding to address Max Weber’s ideas about the social and psychological bases for legitimacy, she concludes with an appraisal of Jürgen Habermas’ views.

terrorism, violence, conflict, social sciences, state power, Habermas, Jürgen, Weber, Max (sociologist) (1864-1920)

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 30, No. 3 (2003): 108-126