The Instrumental Value Arguments for National Self-Determination

Dialogue—Canadian Philosophical Review 58 (1):65-89 (2019)
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David Miller argues that national identity is indispensable for the successful functioning of a liberal democracy. National identity makes important contributions to liberal democratic institutions, including creating incentives for the fulfilment of civic duties, facilitating deliberative democracy, and consolidating representative democracy. Thus, a shared identity is indispensable for liberal democracy and grounds a good claim for self-determination. Because Miller’s arguments appeal to the instrumental values of a national culture, I call his argument ‘instrumental value’ arguments. In this paper, I examine the instrumental value arguments and show that they fail to justify a group’s right to self-determination.

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Hsin-Wen Lee
University of Delaware


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