Justice, legitimacy and political boundaries : the morality of border control

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Camacho, Enrique
  • Subject: JV

The general problem of the morality of borders is to determine what kind of borders liberal democracies ought to have. This in turn raises two particular problems. First to determine the nature of states entitlement to control the administration of political and territorial borders and second, to determine what constitutes to exercise this entitlement in fair terms. This thesis is devoted to the first particular problem. I distinguish two kinds of approaches to legitimate border control: justice-based accounts and legitimacy oriented accounts. I argue that justice-based accounts are inappropriate to frame and address the legitimacy problem of borders because they typically merely assume that a set of institutions apply to those over whom coercion is exercised. But these accounts never provide an explanation about why we (and not others) have legitimate rights over territorial borders. This standard objection shows that these views fail to reach the boundary problem, but it does not say why. In this thesis I advance an explanation. I say that justice-based accounts are unfit to address problems of borders. The idea is that justice-based is a simplified account tailored to the problem of public justification, but this simplification has removed the traits relevant to reach the boundary problem. In contrast I introduced legitimacy-oriented accounts of borders. When legitimacy is not about justice and the problem of public justification of coercion, it is about integrity and the assessment of political power from the point of view of distinct political virtues such as fairness, democratic participation, due process, and justice. Legitimacy as integrity performs a division of labour between distinct conceptions of legitimacy in order to justify political power as a whole including the kind of power that borders exercise. But integrity of international basic institutions like borders point out to porous borders as the appropriate case for liberal democracies.
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