Institutional Morality and the Principle of National Self-Determination

Philosophical Studies 172 (1):207-226 (2015)
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Allen Buchanan proposes a methodological framework with which theorists may evaluate different theories of secession, including the National Self-Determination theory. An important claim he makes is, because the right to secede is inherently institutional, any adequate theory of secession must include, as an integral part, an analysis of institutional morality. Because the National Self-Determination theory blatantly lacks such an analysis, Buchanan concludes that this theory is inherently flawed. In this paper, I consider Buchanan’s framework and the responses from supporters of national self-determination theory. I try to clarify the confusion shared by both parties. I conclude that, although Buchanan’s theory of institutional morality is sound, his critiques of the national self-determination theory fails.

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Hsin-Wen Lee
University of Delaware


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