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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: August 2009

5 - Territorial disputes


Plenitude is objective in two senses. First the criteria of plenitude — the two aspects, empirical and intentional — are laid down by the theory, not by the claimant. Second and whether the claimed place is, in fact, full in the relevant sense is objectively assessable. But as we've noted before, plenitude also has an essential relative aspect, for it is claimants' ethnogeographies that determine in what plenitude consists in any particular place. This relativity underlies territorial disputes, and is one of the key features of the problem of territory that have made it so difficult for political theorists even to see a viable way forward in developing normative criteria for resolving territorial conflicts. Chapter Five continues the progress toward a full theory of territorial rights by explicating how the plenitude criterion works in practice, and thereby taking us to the point of being able to understand how claims work on their own. Understanding how to resolve competing claims is the core task of Chapter Six.

Applying the plenitude criterion

The best way to demonstrate the relative aspect of plenitude is to illustrate it. Recall the discussion of Wendell Berry's agrarian ethnogeography, and his demonstration of the plenitude of his native hill, which we discussed in Chapter Four.

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Land, Conflict, and Justice
  • Online ISBN: 9780511575709
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