Émile Durkheim on Legitimacy - Dictionary of Arguments
Habermas IV 123
Legitimacy/Civil Law/Durkheim/Habermas: Problem: a contract cannot contain its own bases of validity. The fact that the parties voluntarily enter into an agreement does not imply the binding nature of this agreement. The contract itself is only possible thanks to a regulation of social origin. (1)
This regulation, for its part, cannot be an expression of mere arbitrariness, not based on the factuality of state authority.
Solution/Durkheim: the rights that have their origin in things were dependent on the religious nature of these things. Thus, all moral and legal relations (...) owe their existence to a sui generis force that is inherent in either the subjects or the objects and that forces respect.
Question: how can two decisions originating from two different subjects have a greater binding force, simply because they are identical? (2)
Solution/Durkheim: contracts have the binding character due to the legitimacy of the legal regulations on which they are based. And these only apply
Habermas IV 124
as legitimate because they express a general interest.
Criterion/Durkheim: that the contract is moral is only guaranteed due to the fact that no side is favoured. (3)
DurkheimVsWeber/Habermas: Durkheim is not - like Max Weber - concerned here with material justice, but with the fact that the obligatory character of contracts cannot be derived from the arbitrariness of the interest-led agreement of individuals.
1. E. Durkheim, De la division du travail social, German: Über die Teilung der sozialen Arbeit, Frankfurt, 1977, p. 255.
2. E. Durkheim, Lecons de sociologie, Physique des moeurs et du droit. Paris 1969, p. 205. (engl. London 1957).
3. Durkheim (1969) p. 231._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
The Rules of Sociological Method - French: Les Règles de la Méthode Sociologique, Paris 1895
Die Regeln der soziologischen Methode Frankfurt/M. 1984
Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne Frankfurt 1988
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. I Frankfurt/M. 1981
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. II Frankfurt/M. 1981