Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Alison Jaggar

Second Advisor

Claudia Mills

Third Advisor

David Boonin


I shift the current philosophical debate on secession by arguing for a new framework to analyze the normative question of secession. The normative question of secession asks under what conditions it is morally permissible for a group to secede. I argue that an adequate normative theory of secession ought to be based primarily not on the question of political legitimacy, but on the prior, more fundamental values most salient in the normative question of secession, namely self-determination, justice, and flourishing. I show that this axiological approach, which I develop in this project, yields a morally more plausible answer to the normative question of secession.