Philosophy 2810F/G Chapter Notes -Special Rights, Institutional Theory, The Incentive

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Published on 18 Sep 2012
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THEORIES OF SECESSION BUCHANAN
There has been no systematic account of the types of normative theories of secession
THE INSTITUTIONAL QUESTION
Depend upon whether the attractive features of non-institutional theories remain attractive
when attempts are made to institutionalize them. I shall argue that they do not: otherwise
appealing accounts of the right to secede are seen to be poor guides to institutional reform
It is appreciated that attempts to incorporate them into international institutions would create
perverse incentives
Unless institutional considerations are taken into account from the beginning in developing a
normative theory of secession, the result is unlikely to be of much value for the task of providing
moral guidance for institutional reform
Because secessionist attempts are usually resisted with deadly force by the state, human rights
violations are common in secession
Their theories are only intended to provide general guidance but provide no clues as to how
the gap might be bridged
Remedial right theories are superior
TWO TYPES OF NORMATIVE THEORIES OF SECESSION
Remedial right only or also recognize a primary right to secede meant a general not a special
right
Remedial right only theories assert that a group has a general right to secede if and only if it has
suffered certain injustices for which secession is the appropriate remedy of last resort
Revolution people have the right to overthrow the government if and only if their
fundamental rights are violated and more peaceful means have been to no avail
Locke tends to focus on cases where the government perpetrates injustices against the people,
not a particular group within the state
When the people suffer prolonged and serious injustices the people will rise
Remedial right Only theories hold that the general right to secession exists only where the group
in question has suffered injustices
Special rights to secede if the state grants a right to secede, and if the constitution of the state
includes a right to secede, also if the agreement by which the state was initially created out of
previously independent political units included the implicit or explicit assumption that secession
at a later point was permissible
They do not limit permissible secession to cases where the seceding group has suffered
injustices. They do restrict the general right to secede to such cases
Group has a right to secede only if
1. The physical survival of its members is threatened by actions of the state or it suffers
violations of other basic human rights
2. Its previously sovereign territory was unjustly taken by the state
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Corporate in the project of securing other just terms of secession
Ascriptive Group Theories: groups whose memberships are defined by what are sometimes
called ascriptive characteristics that have the right to secede independently of any actual
political association
Associative Group Theories: do not require that a group have any ascriptive characteristics in
common such as ethnicity or an encompassing culture
Group need not even believe that they other than the desire to have their own state voluntary
political choice
There is a right to secede that is, or is an instance of the right of political association
Plebiscite theory there is a primary right of political association or as of political self
determination
Form its own state if that group constitutes a majority in that territory or if the state it forms will
be able to carry out effectively what was referred to earlier as the legitimating functions of a
state
Or if its severing the territory from the existing state will not impair the latter’s ability to carry
out effectively those same legitimating functions
There can also be a right to secede grounded in the need to remedy injustices
A group can have a right to secede even if it suffers no injustices
Just must be understood in what might be called the uncontroversial or standard or theory
neutral sense
One that does not violate relatively uncontroversial individual moral rights
Does not engage in uncontroversial discriminatory policies toward minorities
CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING PROPOSALS FOR LEGAL RIGHTS TO SECEDE
First theories of the moral right to secede that might intitially appear reasonable are seen to be
seriously deficient when viewed as elements of an institutional morality articulated in a system
of international law
Second some current theories of the right to secede are much more promising candidates for
providing guidance for international law than others fail to take into account some of the most
critical considerations relevant to the project
Minimal realism a proposal for morally progressive legal rights to secede. A reasonable degree
of secession would better serve basic values than the status quo
Minimal realism is not slavish deference to current political feasibility
A theory is morally progressive and minimally realistic if and only if its implementation would
better serve basic values than the status quo
Consistency with well entrenched morally progressive principles of international law a
proposal should build upon the more morally acceptable principles of existing international law
Absence of perverse incentives: a proposal should not create perverse incentives
The chief way in which acceptance as a principle of international law creates incentives is by
conferring legitimacy on certain types of actions
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Document Summary

There has been no systematic account of the types of normative theories of secession. Depend upon whether the attractive features of non-institutional theories remain attractive when attempts are made to institutionalize them. I shall argue that they do not: otherwise appealing accounts of the right to secede are seen to be poor guides to institutional reform. It is appreciated that attempts to incorporate them into international institutions would create perverse incentives. Unless institutional considerations are taken into account from the beginning in developing a normative theory of secession, the result is unlikely to be of much value for the task of providing moral guidance for institutional reform. Because secessionist attempts are usually resisted with deadly force by the state, human rights violations are common in secession. Their theories are only intended to provide general guidance but provide no clues as to how the gap might be bridged.

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