Self-Determination and the Limits on the Right to Include

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States’ right to exclude prospective members is the subject of a fierce debate in political theory, but the right to include has received relatively little scholarly attention. To address this lacuna, we examine the puzzle of permissible inclusion: when may states confer citizenship on individuals they have no prior obligation to include? We first clarify why permissible inclusion is a puzzle, then proceed to a normative evaluation of this practice and its limits. We investigate self-determination – a dominant principle in theories of the right to exclude – as a normative ground for limits on the right to include. We argue that states’ duties to respect one another’s self-determination yield limits on permissible inclusion. When inclusive policies for citizenship undermine the permissible scope of self-determination of other states, they are impermissible; they should either be prohibited, or require compensation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Studies
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • citizenship
  • exclusion and inclusion
  • naturalisation
  • permissible scope
  • political membership
  • self-determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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