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How can We Construct a Political Theory of Secession?

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Abstract:

Secession has for a long time been a very difficult, even daunting, subject for scholars of international relations. In the 1990s secession became a topic of rather heated debate also among political theorists. This is a welcome development: secession is fundamentally a question of who has the right to govern whom and in what form. Two positions have crystallized in this discussion. The first one, the so-called choice theory, is that there should be a general right of secession grounded in the will of the majority. The second view, the so-called just cause theory, is that there should be a remedial right of secession only and that it ought to be based on just cause. This paper undertakes to assess these positions. I argue that they both rest on a problematic approach to political theory and should be reevaluated. The task of political theory ought to be to make intelligible the moral and political universe we inhabit and suggest superior alternatives. The secession theorists come up with what they regard as superior alternatives without any serious effort to grasp the political world we actually live in first. For the past sixty years, rules and practices of the present international society have not recognized any right of secession from a sovereign state without consent of its government, and that is no accident of history. There are deep reasons and normative justifications for this. One can accept or reject them but one cannot ignore them. Otherwise, all the theoretical adroitness is likely exhibited in vain; it cannot give us much moral and practical guidance for tackling what in reality are painfully complex problems and dilemmas.
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Name: International Studies Association
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http://www.isanet.org


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MLA Citation:

Fabry, Mikulas. "How can We Construct a Political Theory of Secession?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA, Mar 22, 2006 <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p98792_index.html>

APA Citation:

Fabry, M. , 2006-03-22 "How can We Construct a Political Theory of Secession?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p98792_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Secession has for a long time been a very difficult, even daunting, subject for scholars of international relations. In the 1990s secession became a topic of rather heated debate also among political theorists. This is a welcome development: secession is fundamentally a question of who has the right to govern whom and in what form. Two positions have crystallized in this discussion. The first one, the so-called choice theory, is that there should be a general right of secession grounded in the will of the majority. The second view, the so-called just cause theory, is that there should be a remedial right of secession only and that it ought to be based on just cause. This paper undertakes to assess these positions. I argue that they both rest on a problematic approach to political theory and should be reevaluated. The task of political theory ought to be to make intelligible the moral and political universe we inhabit and suggest superior alternatives. The secession theorists come up with what they regard as superior alternatives without any serious effort to grasp the political world we actually live in first. For the past sixty years, rules and practices of the present international society have not recognized any right of secession from a sovereign state without consent of its government, and that is no accident of history. There are deep reasons and normative justifications for this. One can accept or reject them but one cannot ignore them. Otherwise, all the theoretical adroitness is likely exhibited in vain; it cannot give us much moral and practical guidance for tackling what in reality are painfully complex problems and dilemmas.

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