Colonialism, injustices of the past, and the hole in Nine

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 88 (2):288-300 (2023)
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In ‘Colonialism, territory and pre-existing obligations,’ Cara Nine argues that Lea Ypi’s account of the wrongness of colonialism has a hole in it: Ypi leaves open the possibility of justified settler colonialism. Nine suggests that we can patch this hole by attaching value to existing political associations. But Nine’s solution has its own hole. Many political associations exist due to settler colonialism, and thus if we endorse the value of these associations we seem to endorse colonialism. In response, we could say that past colonial injustices have been remediated or superseded. Or, we could leave the hole open: colonialism is sometimes justified. I argue that, surprisingly, the second option is likely preferable, because it does not require us to say that the injustices of colonialism are gone, and because it points towards a better theory of colonialism’s wrongness than Ypi’s: cosmopolitan instrumentalism, according to which colonialism is wrong only when it is unjust according to one’s overall theory of cosmopolitan justice.



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Daniel Weltman
Ashoka University

Citations of this work

A cosmopolitan instrumentalist theory of secession.Daniel Weltman - 2023 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 61 (3):527-551.

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References found in this work

Political Theory and International Relations.Charles R. Beitz - 1979 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
A Political Theory of Territory.Margaret Moore - 2015 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical Exploration.Anna Stilz - 2019 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Superseding historic injustice.Jeremy Waldron - 1992 - Ethics 103 (1):4-28.
Boundaries of Authority.Alan John Simmons - 2016 - New York, US: Oxford University Press USA.

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