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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Few deny that states should be delineated territorially, but questions abound as to what moral rights states can claim to which parcels of territory. In other words, even if one assumes that states can be legitimate and must be territorially districted (and not everyone does, of course), why think that Norway is entitled to exclusive jurisdiction over the particular piece of territory it currently occupies? And even if Norway does have a special claim to this land, what rights does this give it against which parties? More specifically, does Norway have exclusive rights of jurisdiction (the right to make and enforce law on its territory), resources (the right to control and consume the natural resources available in its territory), and/or border control (the right to design and enforce its own immigration policy as it sees fit)? This chapter explores how functional theorists (those who believe that states are justified in virtue of the important functions they perform) might try to ground a legitimate state’s claims to jurisdiction, border control, and resources. I argue that functional theorists can provide plausible accounts of the first two territorial rights, but it remains unclear how they can justify the third. Assuming that this is correct, the plausibility of functional theories of political legitimacy will depend upon whether natural resources should be understood as belonging exclusively to the citizens of the country in which they lie.

Keywords: political legitimacy, territory, jurisdiction, immigration, natural resource

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