Select Papers

Stripping Citizenship: Does Membership Have its (Moral) Privileges?

If states have the moral authority to decide their memberships by denying citizenship, I argue that they may also strip citizenship, from law-abiding members, for the same reasons. The only real difference is that when states revoke citizenship they may need to compensate people for their prior contributions, but that is not unlike what frequently occurs in divorce. Once just termination rules are established, stripping citizenship could become, like divorce, an everyday event. Partly because of this implication, we should reject the membership authority of states. 

Being at Home in the World: International Relocation (Not Open Borders)

This paper describes a different way of understanding the moral significance of many common reasons for international relocation by appealing to an underlying interest in pursuing a particular way of life. Specifically, it argues that international relocation can often be explained in terms of the direct or indirect pursuit of a set of norms, beliefs and values in which particular opportunities are embedded.  This means that it is not only the pursuit of one’s choices, but also the meaning and value of one’s choices, along with one’s identity, that can depend on living in another state. Second, the paper stresses the importance of distinguishing international relocation from other forms of migration, and thereby discriminating between different kinds of migration rights. The tendency has been to bundle the different forms of migration and offer justifications for a very broad right to migrate, or for open borders. While this approach has its advantages, this paper argues that different types of migration merit different kinds of normative support, and that the idea of a “right to international relocation” can be differentiated from the more general idea of open borders.

Respecting Embedded Disability

In certain ways, many disabilities seem to occupy a middle ground between illnesses like cancer and identity-traits like race: like illnesses, they can present a wide variety of obstacles in a range of social and natural environments and, insofar as they do, they are something we should prevent potential people from having for their own sake; at the same time, those same types of disabilities can be, like race, a valuable part of the identity of the persons who already have them. I consider this seemingly dual nature of a significant class of disabilities to attempt to understand the proper relation of those disabilities to persons and how we should value or respect them. I argue for a distinction between embedded disabilities and general disabilities; importantly not everyone with a disability will turn out to have an embedded disability. I then show that expressing negative value judgments about general disabilities does not always express disrespect for people with disabilities. Finally, I show that unlike with disabilities, expressing negative judgments about the general form of identity-traits like race does typically express disrespect for people with those identity-traits.

On the ‘State’ of International Political Philosophy

By critically assessing significant work in international political philosophy, this paper demonstrates that there are central areas that require more sustained reflection.  In particular, I show that existing accounts of migration and borders are in need of a new approach.  For instance, I demonstrate that some of the existing justifications for a right to migrate do not properly distinguish between a primary and a remedial right, and others do not yet establish that people have a right to migrate to the particular state of their choice.   Views that maintain that states have the unilateral right to exclude also face significant unresolved issues.  For instance, one prominent view implies that race-based exclusions are only condemnable insofar as they disrespect fellow members, suggesting that basic respect is only owed to people inside our state—a conception of the demands of basic respect that I call into question.

Animal Welfare and Animal Pain: Can Pain Sometimes be Worse for Them than for Us?

I present a different approach to the understanding of animal pain, largely relying on the framework of welfare analysis in economics, although the arguments can be broadened beyond this framework. I argue that due to the same reasons for which animals are thought to be incapable of sophisticated forms of suffering—namely, a lack of self- and time-awareness—a given amount of pain may actually be worse for them in certain respects than many have thought, and may even be worse for them than the comparable amount of pain is for us. The argument that pain may be worse for animals follows mainly as a consequence of reflecting on the reasons philosophers, psychologists, and economists typically give for thinking that pain and discomfort are sometimes discounted.

Liberal Recognition for Identity? Only for Particularized Ones

Any liberal view that attempts to account for the significance of social identity must specify a procedure to give proper recognition to identity that also ensures that the liberal sense of autonomy is not weakened. In this article, I develop such an account. I argue that we must distinguish an identity that belongs to particular persons (particularized identity) from the collective form. To determine which acts are about recognizing the particularized form, I provide a counterfactual test. One major implication of the test is that special collective rights would not be endorsed. At the same time, the test is not equivalent to the liberal positions of insisting either that rights belong to individuals or that individuals are not harmed.