UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The emancipatory potential of political consent Pemberton, Sarah Xanthe


The subject of this thesis is an analysis and critique of liberal models of people's consent to citizenship in their state, and consideration of whether such consent is obtainable in contemporary liberal states. After consideration of various contemporary and classical liberal models of consent, it is concluded that substantive political consent must be voluntary and intentional, and thus that consent must be expressed rather than tacit. Furthermore, it is argued that for one to consent one must have reasons to believe the state is morally justified, and that for one's consent to be considered free and voluntary, one must be free to dissent and leave one's state. The issues of residents' freedom to dissent and liberal states' moral justification are considered, with the conclusion that many disadvantaged residents are not free to dissent and that there is good cause to believe liberal states are not morally justified. As such, it is concluded that substantive consent is currently unobtainable in contemporary liberal states, and likely to remain so until reforms remedy the problems of the lack of freedom and justification.

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