The Identity Argument for National Self-determination

Public Affairs Quarterly 26 (2):123-139 (2012)
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A number of philosophers argue that the moral value of national identity is sufficient to justify at least a prima facie right of a national community to create its own independent, sovereign state. In the literature, this argument is commonly referred to as the identity argument. In this paper, I consider whether the identity argument successfully proves that a national group is entitled to a state of its own. To do so, I first explain three important steps in the argument and then consider whether they lead to the desired conclusion. My examination reveals that the identity argument relies on the Optimal Protection Principle; however, this principle does not apply to the case of a national community. As a result, the identity argument fails to justify even a prima facie right of a national community to establish its own state.
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