Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 11, pp 2859–2877 | Cite as

Citizenship for children: By soil, by blood, or by paternalism?

  • Luara FerracioliEmail author


Do states have a right to exclude prospective immigrants as they see fit? According to statists the answer is a qualified yes. For these authors, self-determining political communities have a prima facie right to exclude, which can be overridden by the claims of vulnerable groups such as refugees and children born in the state’s territory. However, there is a concern in the literature that statists have not yet developed a theory that can protect children born in the territory from being excluded from the political community. For if the self-determining political community has the right to decide who should form the self in the first place, then that right should count against both newcomers by immigration and newcomers by birth. Or so the concern goes. In this essay, I defend statism against this line of criticism and provide a liberal justification for the inclusion of children born within the state’s borders. My account leads to some surprising implication for citizenship law, as well as immigration arrangements in the area of asylum and unauthorized immigration.


Children Immigration Citizenship Paternalism Statism 



For excellent comments and suggestions, I would like to thank Christian Barry, Ryan Cox, Dan Halliday, Eszter Kollar, R. J. Leland, Serena Olsaretti, Kim Rubenstein, Ana Tanasoca, Rosa Terlazzo and two anonymous reviewers for Phil Studies. I would also like to thank audiences at the University of Sydney, University of Leiden, ANU, Goethe University of Frankfurt, Central European University, Pompeu Fabra and the University of Melbourne. Special thanks to the Philosophy Program at the ANU for providing me with a great environment to write this piece in 2016, and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research for financially supporting my research via a VENI grant (275-20-148).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  2. 2.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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