"Crisis Government’s Legitimacy Paradox: Foreseeability and Unobservable Success"
- This paper contributes a rethinking of crisis government, starting from two observations. First, nearly all prior political theorizing about crisis focuses on imminent or already-present threats, rather than more amorphous forecasted risks. Historical theories justify drastic responses only when an actual, present threat exists, and are silent about how to approach the risk of total societal destruction on the basis of uncertain forecasts and longer time scales. Second, prior theories rely on a legitimacy principle based on retrospective, ex post approval of norm violations that stopped an observed threat or a directly experienced emergency. These theories give little guidance about whether crisis governments can operate instead based on foresight and anticipation. If their interventions succeed, such governments would prevent forecasted disasters from occurring, but the actual presence of an emergency—which extant theory requires to legitimate crisis government—would then be unobserved. Such a government’s very success would prevent the actualization of its legitimacy, presenting a paradox for present theory. Drawing on the Talmud's discussion of how to preclude a civilization-scale catastrophe, this paper contributes a new theory of crisis government that answers how we can legitimately act on the basis of foresight to address the anticipated exigencies of existential risks.
|Type of resource
|September 18, 2023
|September 18, 2023; September 18, 2023
|Slate, Daniel D.
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- Preferred citation
- Slate, D. (2023). "Crisis Government’s Legitimacy Paradox: Foreseeability and Unobservable Success" in Intersections, Reinforcements, Cascades: Proceedings of the 2023 Stanford Existential Risks Conference. The Stanford Existential Risks Initiative. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at https://purl.stanford.edu/zj321vj7513. https://doi.org/10.25740/zj321vj7513.
Intersections, Reinforcements, Cascades: The Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Stanford Existential Risks Conference
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