EuroStorie research seminar: Pedro Magalhães 17.1.2020

The EuroStorie research seminar is organized by the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives and will host a guest speaker or several shorter presentations centred around a common theme.

Time: 17.1.2020 13:00-14:00
Place: Room 229, Psychologicum (Siltavuorenpenger 1 A, 00170 Helsinki)

Pedro Magalhães – Political Legitimacy: A Conceptual Introduction


In this presentation, which is part of a broader project on the legitimacy of modern democracy, my aim is to elucidate the concept of political legitimacy by surveying the chief transformations it has gone through in Western thought from antiquity to the modern age. This conceptual-historical overview will takes us through 1) the entanglement of kinship and politics – epitomized by the concept of dynastic legitimacy – that marks pre-modern Western political thought; 2) the emancipation of the latter from the former in the modern age, with a special emphasis on the doctrinal struggles of the French Revolution; 3) the establishment of an understanding of the problem of political legitimacy which relates it, in the words of Max Weber, to the social-scientific “search for the ultimate grounds of the validity of a domination”. In the conclusion, I will focus on how this process of conceptual change has given rise to a distinction between two concepts that share the same etymology, namely, those of legitimacy and legality – a distinction that is crucial for grasping the paradoxes of modern democracy.    

About the speaker

Dr Pedro Magalhães is a post-doctoral researcher in EuroStorie subproject 2, Discovering the Limits of Reason - Europe and the Crisis of Universalism. He has a background in political science and political theory. His research focuses on early twentieth-century political thought, with a special emphasis on the crises of the interwar period.