When Democracies Denationalize: The Epistemological Case against Revoking Citizenship

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11 Scopus citations


Discomfort with denationalization spans both proceduralist and consequentialist objections. I augment Patti Lenard's arguments against denationalization with an epistemological argument. What makes denationalization problematic for democratic theorists are not simply the procedures used to impose this penalty or its consequences but also the permanence of this type of punishment. Because democratic theory assumes citizens to be subject to developmental processes that can substantially alter a person's character in politically relevant ways, I argue in favor of states imposing only revocable punishments. Penalties removing people's rights and political standing must be accompanied by avenues for periodic reconsideration of such punishments in order to meet Lenard's standard of democratic legitimacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-259
Number of pages7
JournalEthics and International Affairs
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and International Relations


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