Authority and Democracy . Self-Determination. Analogy individual autonomy – state autonomy. Christian Wolff: “Nations are regarded as individuals free persons living in the state of nature ”
Christian Wolff: “Nations are regarded as individuals free persons living in the state of nature”
“Since by nature all nations are equal, since moreover all men are equal in a moral sense whose rights and obligations are the same; the right and obligations of all nations are also by nature the same”
“Since by nature no nation has a right to any act which pertains to the exercise of the sovereignty of another nation …; no ruler of a state has the right to interfere in the government of another, consequently cannot establish anything in its state or do anything, and the government of another, and the government of the ruler of one state is not subject to the decision of the ruler of any other state”
Individuals have a right to pursue their own ends without interference (provided they do not harm or interfere with others’ liberty themselves).
Just like individuals have a right to be “respected as sources of ends” (as long as they do not harm or interfere with others) so do states.
Objection: in what sense should we think that states are entitled to be “respected as sources of ends”?
“States lack the unity of consciousness and the rational will that constitute the identity of persons” (Beitz, p. 81). So where does their claim to autonomy come from?
Standard answer: the rights and duties of states are somehow grounded on the rights and duties of the individuals who form them.
“The rights of states rest on the consent of their members…. . Given a genuine ‘contract’, it makes sense to say that the territorial integrity and political sovereignty can be defended in exactly the same way as individual life and liberty” (p. 54).
Premise 1: individuals have a right of autonomy
Premise 2: individuals consent to enter a certain state, or to be represented by a certain government, so that that state/government will act on their behalf
Conclusion: interfering with the state/government is interfering with the autonomy of the individuals who form it
The autonomy of states rests on an aspect of the autonomy of persons, i.e. their liberty of association.
Interfering with state governments is prohibited because they represent individual moral agents exercising their freedom of association.
Hardly any states/governments can be plausibly described as founded on the consent of their members because:
We cannot justify the prohibition against interference with states by appealing to the fact that they are free association.
Perhaps a government is legitimate if individuals should/would consent to it under ideal conditions (if they were rational and had adequate information).
Interference is impermissible because “it violates principles that would be consented to by rational citizens as expressing the terms of their association”.
“The analogue of the moral autonomy of persons, at the level of states, is a state’s conformity with appropriate principles of domestic justice. The autonomy of states is the outer face of their legitimacy” (Beitz)
NB: what is doing the work is the fact that there are reasons why we should/wouldconsent to states/governments.
Legitimate domestic governments exercise coercive power over their subjects without their consent.
But if coercion by domestic governments without consent is permissible, why should coercion by other governments be impermissible?
Both forms of coercion seem justifiable by appealing to principles of justice to which individuals should/would consent, but to which they did not consent.
We think that it’s impermissible to interfere with individuals liberty, independently from whether individuals act in a virtuous or morally sound way.
Why should we respect states’ autonomy only when their institutions conform to principles of justice?
Why should we value autonomy differently in the case of states?
It’s “because all persons should be respected as sources of ends that we should not allow all states to claim a right of autonomy” (Beitz)
States are legitimate only to the extent that they conform to principles of justice that, among other things, require them to respect the autonomy of their members.
When they do not conform to these principles their autonomy should not be respected because we value the autonomy of those individuals they do not protect.
Intervention is permissible when:
NB: Something like this view was defended by Grotius (before Wolff and Vattel defended the orthodox view)
Two principles of political self-determination:
[Altman & Wellman]
(2) Addresses the problem of secession
Internal Legitimacy ≠ External Legitimacy
Walzer: When states fail to fulfil the functions that justify their existence they lose internal legitimacy. This is not yet to say that they lose also external legitimacy.
States protect not only individuals rights and liberties, but also their citizens’ “shared life and liberty, the independent community they have made” (Just and Unjust War, p. 54).
Political communities are characterized by a common historyand a distinctive culture grounded in a shared set of values
“When invasions are launched by foreigner armies, even armies with revolutionary intentions, and even when revolution is justified, it is entirely plausible to say that the rights of subjects and citizens have been violated. Their ‘slowness’ has been artificially speeded up, their ‘aversion’ has been repudiated, their loyalties have been ignored, their prudential calculations have been rejected – all in favour of someone else’s conceptions of political justice and political prudence”