This article asks whether states have a right to close their borders because of their right to self-determination, as proposed recently by Christopher Wellman, Michael Walzer, and others. It asks the fundamental question whether self-determination can, in even its most unrestricted form, support the exclusion of immigrants. I argue that the answer is no. To show this, I construct three different ways in which one might use the idea of self-determination to justify immigration restrictions and show that each of these (...) arguments fails. My conclusion is that the nature and value of self-determination have to do with the conditions of genuine self-government, not membership of political society. Consequently, the demand for open borders is fully consistent with respect to self-determination. (shrink)
Many political theorists, philosophers, social scientists, and other academics engage in political activism. And many think this is how things ought to be. In this essay, I challenge the ideal of the politically engaged academic. I argue that, quite to the contrary, political theorists, philosophers, and other political thinkers have a prima facie duty to refrain from political activism. This argument is based on a commonsense moral principle, a claim about the point of political thought, and findings in cognitive psychology.
Most treatments of territorial rights include a discussion (and rejection) of Locke. There is a remarkable consensus about what Locke’s views were. For him, states obtain territorial rights as the result of partial transfers of people’s property rights. In this article, I reject this reading. I argue that (a) for Locke, transfers of property rights were neither necessary nor sufficient for territorial rights and that (b) Locke in fact held a two-part theory of territorial rights. I support this reading by (...) appealing to textual and contextual evidence. I conclude by drawing a lesson from Locke’s views for current debates on territorial rights. (shrink)
State legitimacy is often said to have two aspects: an internal and an external one. Internally, a legitimate state has the right to rule over its subjects. Externally, it has a right that outsiders not interfere with its domestic governance. But what is the relation between these two aspects? In this paper, I defend a conception of legitimacy according to which these two aspects are related in an importantly asymmetrical manner. In particular, a legitimate state’s external right to rule affords (...) it protections that include and go beyond what its internal right to rule enables it to do. This asymmetrical view, I argue, is preferable to its two main rivals: the view that a state’s internal and external legitimacy are separate issues, and the view that internal and external legitimacy are mirroring. (shrink)
The idea that law claims authority (LCA) has recently been forcefully criticized by a number of authors. These authors present a new and intriguing objection, arguing that law cannot be said to claim authority if such a claim is not justified. That is, these authors argue that the view that law does not have authority viciously conflicts with the view that law claims authority. I will call this the normative critique of LCA. In this article, I assess the normative critique (...) of LCA, focusing predominantly on the arguments presented by its most incisive proponent Philip Soper. I defend a twofold conclusion. First, LCA, understood roughly along the lines put forward by Joseph Raz, is part of the most attractive analysis of law. Second, proponents of the normative critique, and in particular Soper, are committed to accepting LCA. (shrink)
This article aims to provide some insight into the nature and content of the theory of associative political obligation. It does this by first locating the view in the wider debate on political obligation, analyzing the view in terms of four central elements that are shared by many of its versions, and then discussing important criticisms that have been made of each of these, as well as some rejoinders by defenders of the theory.
This article adopts the framework set out in ‘Associative Political Obligations’ to ask two further questions about the theory of associative political obligation. (i) Which of the different interpretations of the theory of associative political obligation is most plausible? And (ii) what would be the implications of such a view? It is argued that (i) the most attractive version of the argument is one according to which such obligations obtain only in morally acceptable communities, and only between what may be (...) called ‘thick’ members. And (ii) that such a theory should give up on at least some of the conclusions that associativist theorists have tried to defend, such as that associative political obligations can establish the legitimacy of states. However, it is also suggested that this should not be considered a regrettable retreat. (shrink)
I here defend historical entitlement theories of property rights against a popular charge. This is the objection that such theories fail because no convincing account of original appropriation exists. I argue that this argument assumes a certain reading of historical entitlement theory and I spell out an alternative reading against which it misfires. On this reading, the role of acts of original appropriation is not to justify but to individuate people’s holdings. I argue that we can identify which acts count (...) as original appropriation against the background of a general justification for a practice of property rights. On this view, what I will call ‘natural’ acts of original appropriation are acts by which a person begins to satisfy the general conditions for justified ownership. Finally, I offer an interpretation of John Locke's theory of appropriation along these lines and argue that it provides an attractive reading of his view. (shrink)
In this paper I respond to Bernd Krehoff’s article ‘Legitimate Political Authority and Sovereignty: Why States Cannot Be the Whole Story’. I criticize Krehoff’s use of Raz’s theory of authority to evaluate the legitimacy of our political institutions. Krehoff argues that states cannot (always) claim exclusive authority and therefore cannot possess exclusive legitimacy. Although I agree with his conclusion, I argue that the questions of legitimacy and (Razian) authority are distinct and that we need to focus more on the former (...) in order to really support and defend Krehoff’s conclusions. (shrink)