Document Type



Master of Arts



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

John Brunero


John Brunero

Anna Alexandrova

Eric Wiland


Normative nationalism is the view that national boundaries represent more than an accumulation of tradition and history. Borders are morally significant insofar as the communities they create may appropriately be construed as composed of individuals with particular obligations to one another that they do not have to people outside the communities. I reject normative nationalism in this paper and seek to highlight the defects in criticisms of cosmopolitanism that presume or defend the legitimacy of normative nationalism. I utilize a distinction between demands of activity and demands of justification to point to some flaws in the normative nationalist framework preferred by Thomas Nagel, bring up a thought experiment to move a blind spot in David Miller’s treatment of the issue to the foreground, and conclude by suggesting the capabilities approach of Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen may be a stronger candidate for consideration as a theory of international justice because of its ability to handle more of our intuitions.