Workshop on Anna Stilz, Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical Exploration

Tue, May 23, 2017,
9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Manuscript workshop to discuss Anna Stilz's forthcoming work, Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical Exploration.  University-affiliated faculty, students and visitors welcome.  For more information, contact Kim Girman,

Commentators: Chuck Beitz (Princeton), Michael Blake (University of Washington), Will Kymlicka (Queen's University), Alan Patten (Princeton), Leif Wenar (King's College London), and Lea Ypi (London School of Economics).

This book investigates the moral justification of territorial boundaries. Are there compelling reasons for organizing our world as a territorial states-system, composed of autonomous, bounded, spatially defined jurisdictional units?  Unlike some cosmopolitan critics, I argue that central features of our territorial states-system are morally justified. The book develops an account of three core values—occupancy rights, state legitimacy, and collective self-determination—that favor an international system composed of independent, territorially defined authorities.

The book further asks: how might a particular state go about justifying a claim to this or that particular territory?  Few current states can show a “clean” historical title to their land. Despite their violent history, I argue that current boundaries can be given a moral justification in many cases.  The book articulates moral criteria that can guide a justified response to three especially common challenges to current boundaries, deriving from dispossession, annexation, and separatism.  Finally, the book argues that even states with fully legitimate boundaries possess only limited rights to control their borders and to profit from the exploitation of their natural resources.

Read the manscript - Princeton University login required

301 Marx Hall