Conference abstracts


Chris Armstrong, University of Southampton
Justice and the Burdens of Natural Resource Conservation
Justice plausibly requires that many natural resources ought to be conserved. But conservation often imposes costs, whether this means the costs of actively protecting resources from threats, or the opportunities which are lost when we forego activities which are environmentally destructive. Scholars of global justice have given too little attention to the important normative question of how those costs ought to be distributed. In our world, the costs of conservation tend to fall with the nation-states in which the resources in question happen to lie. But from the moral point of view this may be objectionable. For instance, it may produce injustice if one community has to pick up the tab for conservation although its members are already relatively badly off, and / or bear little responsibility for the threat which a given resource faces. In this paper I identify the normative considerations which ought to govern the distribution of the costs of conservation, and show how taking them seriously justifies measures to remove the costs of conservation from countries which are badly-off. I illustrate the argument by pointing to real-world examples such as the protection of the forests, and the non-exploitation of fossil fuels.

Amandine Catala, University of Quebec at Montreal
What’s Really Wrong with Annexation: A Non-Domination Account
Several accounts have been proposed for what makes annexation wrongful. This paper begins by reviewing these proposals, and proceeds to show that each of them either fails to account for some key features of annexation, or has problematic implications. The paper then offers a new account, based on non-domination, that is able to avoid the shortcomings of alternative accounts while capturing the relevant normative stakes.

Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Haverford College
Territorial Grounds of Democracy: Territory, Property, and Jurisdiction in Juan de Solórzano’s Derecho Indiano
In the last 20 years democratic theory has been preoccupied with the question of how to establish the boundaries of the demos. How can a democratic state determine who belongs in the political community? Even though “the boundary problem” is an abstract problem in democratic theory, it has immediate practical implications for questions of immigration, border control, and the territorial rights of indigenous peoples. In recent years this debate has become entangled with a second debate dealing with the justificatory grounds of states’ territorial rights. But why should we think of territory as the main ground of democratic legitimacy? Isn’t territory morally arbitrary? In this paper, I use Comparative Political Theory, to partially answer this question. I turn to the history of territorial rights and the laws of jurisdiction in the Derecho Indiano—16th century Spanish Colonial law as systematized in the early 17th C by Juan de Solórzano Pereira—to understand how the laws of territorial jurisdiction were imposed, resisted and appropriated by indigenous populations in early colonial New Spain and Peru. I argue that the origins of he view of territorial rights grounded on private property—which are often referred to as Lockean—were predated by Spanish colonial law. And further, that the tradition of appropriation of and resistance to such law was well grounded in colonial political practice by the 17th century. This historical view can allow us to rethink the “boundary problem” in terms of the interplay of legal practices and traditions of resistance. We can thus see questions of immigration, border control and territorial rights in the light of praxis, and explain why we can give a normative response to the boundary problem, stemming from the political history of territory.

Avery Kolers, University of Louisville
The Territorial Rights of Animals: Zoopolis and Beyond
One of the profound normative principles of Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka’s landmark book Zoopolis is that animals occupy political territories, not (merely) ethological habitats. The idea that animals could have political rights to place is, however, mysterious. What would they do to deserve them? Can they fail? Are invasive species on a par with native ones, or abundant plants equal to apex predators? One strategy for resolving these questions holds that the right to place is grounded in active achievement rather than simple presence, and that the crucial achievement is contribution to the integrity of the biotic community. This hypothesis solves some key problems for Zoopolis, but in the process it might overthrow Zoopolis altogether. It also, not coincidentally, powerfully challenges mainline theories of human rights to territory.

David Lefkowitz, University of Richmond
International Law, Institutional Moral Reasoning, and Secession
This paper argues for the superiority of international law’s existing ban on unilateral secession over its reform to include either a primary or remedial right to secede.   I begin by defending the claim that secession is an inherently institutional concept, and that therefore we ought to employ institutional moral reasoning to defend or criticize specific proposals regarding a right to secede.  I then respond to the objection that at present we lack the empirical evidence necessary to sustain any specific conclusion regarding an international legal right to secession.  Specifically, I argue that we ought to adopt a precautionary approach, and that such an approach justifies giving no weight to promoting political self-determination per se when considering whether to reform international law governing secession.  I conclude with several reasons to think that even a remedial right to unilateral secession will detract from, not enhance, the international legal order’s ability to promote peace and human rights.

Patti Lenard, University of Ottawa
Expulsion from Membership and Territory
Many democratic states have controversially adapted or reinvigorated ‘denationalization’ laws, which permit them to revoke the citizenship of individuals convicted of, or suspected of, terrorist activities. One common critique of these policies is that it is simply obvious that citizenship in democracies is permanent and irrevocable, as a matter of principle. David Owen recently observed that ‘you just can’t kick someone off the team’, to articulate this widely-shared intuition among democratic theorists.
In this paper, I tackle the question of whether it is permissible to kick someone off the team – and this entails two steps, exclusion from citizenship and exclusion from territory, both of which require independent evaluation. To do this, I turn to discussions of the ‘democratic boundary problem.’ Conventionally this problem considers how the demos can be democratically constituted; it is ordinarily understood as a problem about whom to include. This paper is focused, rather, on exclusion, namely, on if/how responses to the democratic boundary problem can justify exclusion, from membership and from territory, to those who are excluded. I evaluate attempts to resolve the democratic boundary problem (Erman 2014; Simmons 2013; Cabrera 2014; Whelan 1983; Miller 2009; Goodin 2016), to see how these resolutions constitute and justify the exclusion that their inclusionary principles imply. The goal of this evaluation is to assess what resources these views have to answer this question: can members of a demos exclude members from citizenship and territory, against their will, and if so, on what grounds?

Catherine Lu, McGill University
Border Disputes: Postcolonial States and the Struggle for Reconciliation
This paper extends a normative theory of reconciliation to the context of border disputes between post-colonial states in the twentieth century. Disputes between India and China, India and Pakistan, Cambodia and Vietnam, and Thailand and Laos, constitute unresolved legacies of colonial international order. Such disputes are difficult to resolve by appeal to standard principles for settling territorial disputes, such as self-determination, historical entitlement, treaty law, uti possidetis de jure, or effective occupation. This is because the results from applying various principles may conflict, or the principles themselves may be illegitimate when historical colonialism is taken into account. The paper examines how my theory of reconciliation (developed elsewhere) may help to assess the legitimacy and appropriateness of these principles in resolving border disputes between post-colonial states.

Alejandra Mancilla, University of Oslo
Melting Grounds: The Moral Limits of Territorial Claims in Antarctica
Since 1959, the year in which the Antarctic Treaty (AT) was signed by 12 countries, the territorial claims of seven of the original signatories have remained untouched or “frozen.” Meanwhile, new parties to the treaty and new actors have offered alternative accounts of how territorial and resource rights ought to be understood in the last uninhabited continent. In this paper, I offer a preliminary analysis of the normative force of the arguments given to support the original claims, as well as of those proposing alternative modes of governance. I conclude by pointing to the limits of both types of argument, and by suggesting that Antarctica may serve as a starting point wherefrom to rethink current theories of territorial rights and resource rights.

Margaret Moore, Queen’s University
Is Canada Entitled to the Arctic?
This paper explores certain justifications offered by the government of Canada for territorial rights in the Arctic, including, but not limited to, discovery. Many of these arguments are problematic, and fail to justify the scope of Canadian claims in the Arctic.  Moreover, it is difficult to understand how unoccupied Arctic territory is can be justified purely on grounds of self-determination of the Canadian people/state. The paper explores a series of alternative justifications and argues that the justification given for a given bundle of territorial claims determines certain features of the territorial rights involved, which gives Canada primarily a trusteeship role over environmentally sensitive areas in its largely-uninhabited northern territory.

Cara Nine, University College Cork
Place Attachment: What’s Identity Got to Do with It?
In this paper I take apart the conceptual make-up of ‘place attachment’.  I approach the topic from the perspective of human interests and examine those interests that are affected by human connection to place.  Among the interests are: achieving plans, having relationships, cognitive functioning, self-esteem, and autonomy.  I argue that an interest in personal identity is not a distinct human interest affected by place attachment.

Kerstin Reibold, University of Mannheim
Waldron and Indigenous Land Claims
In Superseding Historic Injustice Waldron argues that most land claims of indigenous peoples have been superseded. He argues that historical rights cannot be absolute and that changes in circumstances, such as an increase in population numbers, necessitate to adjust what everybody can justly claim for themselves. Even if indigenous peoples once owned large territories in what are now settler states, the fact that there are now more people living on these lands means that their fair share of land has shrunk. Thus, he concludes, most of the indigenous ancestral lands do not need to be restituted to indigenous peoples because the background circumstances have changed in such a way that even once unjust appropriations of land now are just.
My paper argues that even if one accepts Waldron’s assumptions, it will still give indigenous peoples far-reaching land rights. I will look at two specific cases – disputes over non-used land and conflicts between agricultural societies and the wider society about land use. Each will show that if one applies Waldron’s reasoning, the claims that are superseded will be minimal while the most of the current land claims by indigenous peoples will last.

Mathias Risse, Harvard University
Humanity’s Collective Ownership of the Earth and Immigration
In my 2012 book On Global Justice, I argued that humanity’s collective ownership of the earth should be central to reflection on the permissibility of immigration. Other philosophers have recently offered accounts of immigration that do without the kind of global standpoint provided by collective ownership. I argue here that all these attempts fail. But once we see how humanity’s collective ownership of the earth can deliver a genuinely global standpoint on immigration, we must also consider two alternative ways of offering such a standpoint. First, some have argued that any given generation should be regarded as inheriting both the natural and the societal wealth of humanity. The second alternative invokes ethno-geographic communities characterized by particular land-use patterns. This approach would deliver a global standpoint on immigration by determining which community gets to select the land-use pattern for a given location. I argue that thinking about immigration from the standpoint of collective ownership of the earth is superior to both of those alternatives.

Fabian Schuppert, Queen’s University Belfast
Territorial Rights, Control over Natural Resources, and the Specter of Intergenerational Domination: Examining the Prospects and Limits of a Stewardship Account
My analysis in this paper will take two often argued for (but by no means uncontroversial) ideas as its starting point: first that collective agents such as peoples can claim jurisdictional control and authority over a particular territory; second, that the territorial rights that a people can claim are seen as a bundle of rights which include certain rights over natural resources. While there exists a fair amount of debate of whether the rights to territory and resources a people can have are restricted by the claims and rights of non-members, much less debate exists over how the rights held by a collective agent are restricted by future incarnations/configurations of that agent. However, this question seems particularly relevant in the context of economic and environmental sustainability (e.g. with respect to the phenomenon of land-grabbing) and the dangers of climate change. After all, since future generations don’t have a vote in current elections there is a distinct danger that the current generation will dominate future generations. Therefore, it makes sense to inquire how the territorial rights a people holds is affected by what we assume about future generations. For instance, if it is a people as a transgenerational community that has territorial rights how does this affect some of the subsidiary rights within the rights bundle for territorial rights? In particular, how should we think about control over natural resources within a transgenerational account of people as the appropriate territorial right-holders? One possible answer to this last question is to adopt a stewardship account of resource rights, in which the current generation is merely taking care of the commonly owned stock of resources. However, such a view comes with rather significant implications and limits, which I will investigate in this paper. In so doing my paper will contribute to both a critical re-thinking of whom we talk about when we claim that a people can have territorial rights and a nuanced account of how to think about resource rights intergenerationally.

Sarah Song, University of California-Berkeley
Collective Self-Determination and Immigration Control
Political theorists and philosophers have appealed to the idea of collective self-determination to defend the right of states to control immigration, but their arguments seem to rest ultimately on other values, such as the value of cultural and national identity, the right to private property, and freedom of association. This paper develops a self-determination argument for state control over immigration. On my account, the subject of self-determination is not a nation, joint-owners of state institutions, or members of a voluntary association but “a people” engaged in a shared political project. I elaborate and defend the idea of “a people” as the proper subject of collective self-determination and then consider the relationship between collective self-determination, territorial rights, and immigration control. I consider the distinctive requirements of democratic self-determination and its implications for immigration control in democratic societies.

Anna Stilz, Princeton University
A Political Autonomy Account of Self-Determination
My paper develops a broadly Kantian account of self-determination, which I call the political autonomy theory. This account draws particular on Kant’s argument that the rules governing our collective political life ought not to be enforced unilaterally. Instead, if it is to have the right to make and enforce law and policy for a population, the state must not only perform morally mandatory functions, it must also represent the omnilateral will of its people. I suggest that an omnilateral will is an actual popular will: regarding the enforcement of justice that is shared among a particular domain of the state’s constituents, whom I call the relevant agents. To be legitimate, a state must reflect its people’s actual shared intention to coordinate to enforce justice in a particular way. This is because the basic Kantian duty to respect others’ independence requires us to respect their claim to make decisions about their own lives, including decisions about how they wish to be governed.