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A Political Theory of Territory

A Political Theory of Territory
15 Devonshire Place, Room 200
Time: Nov 29th, 2:00 pm End: Nov 29th, 5:00 pm
Interest Categories: Sociology (FAS), Political Science, Philosophy (UTSC), Philosophy (UTM), Philosophy (FAS), Law, Faculty of , Indigenous, Human Geography (UTSC), Geography & Planning (FAS), Ethics, Diaspora/Transnational, 2000-
Book workshop with author Margaret Moore, Queen's University

The Centre for Ethics and the Department of Political Science are pleased to present a book workshop by

Margaret Moore, Political Science, Queen's University

A Political Theory of Territory


Organizer:  Simone Chambers


  • Margaret Kohn, Political Science, University of Toronto
  • Loren King, Political Science, Wilfred Laurier University
  • Daniel Weinstock, Director, McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy

This event is free and open to the public.  Regisration is not required. For further information, please contact the Centre for Ethics at (416) 978-6288.

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Note: Reading Chapter 3 would be helpful. If you would like a link to this chapter, please contact ethics@utoronto.ca
Table of Contents

1. Why We Need a Theory of Territory. This is intended to be a non-technical, motivating introduction, which explains the relationship of territory to a number of pressing questions, including border disputes, secession, immigration, and global justice.

2. What is Territory? This is a conceptual chapter, which explains in some detail what territory is; what rights are included in territorial rights; what is the relationship between territory and cognate notions, such as property; and also sets out what we expect a theory of territory to do.

3. Foundations of a Theory of Territory: Individual Rights of Occupancy and Collective Rights of Self-determination. This is a foundational chapter, which sets out my theory of territory.  It aims to achieve three things: 1. defends moral right of occupancy (and what it means to ‘occupy’ a land ‘not unjustly’); 2. explains the conditions under which individuals form a people with claims to self-determination; and 3. explains why collective self-determination is valuable.

4. Culturalist theories of territory. There are two rival theories of territory and the fundamental holder of territorial rights: statist theories and culturalist theories.  This chapter examines culturalist theories, with a focus on David Miller’s and Avery Kolers’ theories respectively.

5. Statist/Functional Theories of territory. This chapter examines statist theories of territory, beginning with Kant, but also including Sidgwick, and encompassing contemporary accounts, such as Lea Ypi, Allen Buchanan, Jeremy Waldron, Anna Stilz, Cara Nine. These two chapters (3&4) are important because they are designed to show that the principal rivals have problems that are avoided in my theory.

6. Heartlands, Contested Lands and Drawing Boundaries. Here I address questions about the physical extent of territory. This allows me to talk about cases which are of pressing contemporary importance, such as those involving boundary disputes between neighbouring states, claims of uninhabited islands, the seabed, the ocean generally, and the territorial claims of secessionists.

7. Expulsions from Land and Corrective Justice. This chapter addresses the problem of territorial injustice.  Most people are settled on land which was previously occupied by another group, which might also make a claim to the same land (on historical grounds).  This chapter deals with how we should think about expulsions from territory and what corrective justice remedies are available and when they are appropriate (or superseded).

8. Territorial Rights to Resources and Claims to Global Justice. This chapter, and the following two, deals with what are regarded as distinct rights over territory. Any theory of territory should have something to say about various sorts of territorial claims that are often associated with having ‘territorial rights’.  I disaggregate these claims and consider the extent to which the argument advanced above – in chapters 1-6 — have a bearing on the kind and extent of claims that are made to control borders or over natural resources or defensive rights.

9. Self-determination and the Right to Exclude: Territorial Rights over Immigration. This chapter considers the implications of the argument advanced above for control over the flow of people and goods across borders (which is commonly associated with having sovereignty over a territory).

10. National Defensive Rights. This chapter shows that the theory of territory developed in the chapters above can justify a right to national self-defence.  It is now widely accepted that much of the support in the popular imagination for defensive rights to war is based on an untenable reduction to individual self-defence or false analogy between individual self-defence and collective (or national) self-defence.  One of the ways in which this analogy does not work is that a defensive war is typically thought to be triggered by an attack on the territory of the state, even when no people would be killed if the defending state simply accepts the loss of territory.  The aggressor state, in other words, does not necessarily pose a lethal threat to people as it advances through (unpopulated) territory. This chapter explains and justifies defensive rights over territory.

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