Neighborhoods and States: Why Collective Self-determination is Not Always Valuable


Collective self-determination is considered to be an important political value. Many liberal political philosophers appeal to it to defend the right of states to exclude would-be newcomers. In this paper, I challenge the value of collective self-determination in the case of countries like the US, former colonial powers with a history of white supremacist immigration and citizenship policies. I argue for my claim by way of an analogy: There is no value to white neighborhoods in the US, which are the result of racist attitudes and state policies, determining autonomously who should become a neighbor. In light of this commitment, defenders of the US's right to exclude would need to explain why it should be of moral value that a community whose character and composition has been shaped by white supremacy be able to determine its membership on its own terms.

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Torsten Menge
Northwestern University In Qatar


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