Prof Dr Terry MacDonald

Senior Research Fellow

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstraße 44
47059 Duisburg

Phone: +49 (0)203 379-5230
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276





Since 01/2022

University of Melboune

Associate Professor in International Relations

Since 07/2012

University of Melbourne

Senior Lecturer in International Relations

01/2012 - 06/2012

Monash University

School of Political and Social Inquiry

Senior Lecturer in Global Politics

2007 - 2011

Monash University

School of Political and Social Inquiry

Lecturer in Global Politics

07/2006 - 12/2006

Australian National University

Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE)

Research Fellow

2004 - 2007

Oxford University

Merton College

Junior Research Fellow & Lecturer in International Relations

2003 - 2004

Oxford University

Worcester College

Lecturer in International Relations

1999 - 2000

University of Melbourne

Tutor in Politics

Current Projects

  • Global Political Legitimacy

  • Transnational Democracy

  • Political Normativity


Prof Dr Terry MacDonald joined the research group 'Legitimation and Delegitimation in Global Cooperation' in October 2023 and will be a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre until December 2023.

Research Project at the Centre

Legitimation and de-legitimation in processes of global institutional change

This project aims to understand the role of political practices of (de)legitimation in driving change as well as stability in the governing institutions of international order. It draws on insights from new pragmatic approaches to the normative theory of legitimacy, to develop a stronger sociological model of the relational dynamics that operate within (de)legitimation practices, and the ways these dynamics contribute to wider processes of international political ordering. At the centre of this model is a new theoretical account of the politicalnormativity of legitimacy claims and standards. This is grounded in a pragmatic understanding of legitimacy as a remedial political practice – directed towards the modern political problem of sustaining freely cooperative governance under the dual constraints of material interdependence and normative pluralism.

Through developing this theoretical account the project aims to advance understanding of global (de)legitimation in three key ways. First, it can help account better for variation in the content of legitimacy sources, standards and activities across different institutional contexts in international order – showing how they are contingent on ‘primitive’ normative settlements concerning diagnoses of political problem situations and communities. Second, it can help capture variation in the quality of legitimacy produced across different institutional contexts – showing how legitimacy can vary not only in strength, but also in depth and maturity with respect to the functional levels of legitimacy practice at which it is achieved. Third, it can help explain the dynamics of change in legitimacy quality – showing how processes of (de)legitimization and the emergence of legitimacy crises can be produced by factors endogenous to legitimacy practice.


Teaching Responsibilities

  • International Relations Theory
  • International Ethics
  • Contemporary Political Theory

Selected Publications

Macdonald T (2023) ‘Political justice in a complex global order: rethinking pluralist legitimacy’, International Affairs 99(1):61-79.

Macdonald, T (2023) ‘Reviving democracy: Creating pathways out of legitimacy crises’, European Journal of Political Theory 22(1): 181-191.

Macdonald, T (2022) ‘Theorizing the political rights of refugees: New normative perspectives’, Journal of Refugee Studies 35(2): 1060-1065.

Macdonald, T and K Macdonald (2022) ‘NGOs as Agents of Global Justice: Cosmopolitan Activism for Political Realists’, Ethics & International Affairs 36(3): 305-320.

Lenard, P and T Macdonald (2021) ‘Democracy versus security as standards of political legitimacy: The case of national policy on irregular migrant arrivals’, Perspectives on Politics 19(2): 371-387.

Macdonald, T and K Macdonald (2020) ‘Towards a ‘pluralist’ world order: Creative agency and legitimacy in global institutions’, European Journal of International Relations 26(2): 518-544.

Macdonald, T and K Macdonald (2020) ‘Towards a ‘pluralist’ world order: Creative agency and legitimacy in global institutions’, European Journal of International Relations 26(2): 518-544.