The Ethics of Immigration in a Non-Ideal World: Introduction

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The text introduces the concept behind the Proceedings of the 2018 ZiF Workshop “Studying Migration Policies at the Interface between Empirical Research and Normative Analysis”. It explains why there is a need to study migration policies across disciplines, includes a short note on the current literature, and provides a look back at the workshop.
Full-text available
The publication introduces the concept behind the Proceedings of the 2018 ZiF Workshop “Studying Migration Policies at the Interface between Empirical Research and Normative Analysis”. It explains why there is a need to study migration policies across disciplines, includes a short note on the current literature, and provides a look back at the workshop.
The paper examines obligations towards bearers of the right to asylum in circumstances of partial compliance. Who should bear the burdens when a state responsible for assisting bearers of the right to asylum fails to comply with the requirements of justice and unjustly defaults on its responsibilities? Are the complying states obligated to ‘take up the slack’ and assist the bearers of the right to asylum, or are they obligated to bear only their ‘fair share’ of burdens in the global protection of the right to asylum. The paper argues that the complying states with the capacity to assist can have an obligation of justice to assist bearers of the right to asylum when other states unjustly default on their responsibilities.
Do states have the right to prevent potential immigrants from crossing their borders, or should people have the freedom to migrate and settle wherever they wish? This book develops and defends opposing answers to this timely and important question. Appealing to the right to freedom of association, the book contends that legitimate states have broad discretion to exclude potential immigrants, even those who desperately seek to enter. Against this, it argues that the commitment to the moral equality of all human beings-which legitimate states can be expected to hold-means national borders must be open: equal respect requires equal access, both to territory and membership; and that the idea of open borders is less radical than it seems when we consider how many territorial and community boundaries have this open nature. In addition to engaging with each other's arguments, the authors address a range of central questions and prominent positions on this topic. They provide a critical overview of the major contributions to the ethics of immigration, as well as developing original, provocative positions of their own.
This book explores the constraints which justice imposes on immigration policy. Like liberal nationalists, Ryan Pevnick argues that citizens have special claims to the institutions of their states. However, the source of these special claims is located in the citizenry's ownership of state institutions rather than in a shared national identity. Citizens contribute to the construction and maintenance of institutions (by paying taxes and obeying the law), and as a result they have special claims to these institutions and a limited right to exclude outsiders. Pevnick shows that the resulting view justifies a set of policies – including support for certain types of guest worker programs – which is distinct from those supported by either liberal nationalists or advocates of open borders. His book provides a framework for considering a number of connected topics including issues related to self-determination, the scope of distributive justice and the significance of shared national identity.
This chapter examines what justice requires of agents who discharge their fair share of a collective responsibility to avert some harm, while others default. Relevant examples include multi-person rescue cases, and joint action by states to relieve global poverty or combat climate change. In such situations, must agents who are willing to comply also do more, by taking up the slack left by others, or are they permitted to do less than their fair share as originally defined? Having identified relevant factors that distinguish between different cases, the chapter argues that justice normally requires doing one's fair share, but not more than that. In the relevant sense of that term, responsibility for the harm that is not averted remains with the defaulters. In cases where the rights of those harmed are at stake, however, compliers may have a further humanitarian obligation to take up the slack.
This essay contends that postcolonial migrants have a right to enter their former colonizing nations, and that these should accept them. Our novel argument challenges well-established justifications for restrictions in immigration-policies advanced in liberal nationalism, which links immigration controls to the nation’s self-determination and the legitimate preservation of national identity. To do so, we draw on postcolonial analyses of colonialism, in particular on Edward Said’s notion of “intertwined histories,” and we offer a more sophisticated account of national identity than that of liberal nationalists. In our view, the national identity of former colonizing nations cannot be understood in isolation from their ex-colonies. This entails that liberal nationalists cannot justify the restriction on the entrance of members of the nation’s former colonies by resorting to an argument about the preservation of national identity: the former colonized constitute an inseparable element of that national identity, because they are already historically part of it.
There are two approaches to morality. The realistic approach wants to avoid too large a gap between the ought and the is and focuses on what it is possible given existing realities. This approach, however, inhibits us from challenging fundamentally unjust institutions and policies. The idealistic approach, in contrast, requires us to assess current reality in light of our highest ideals. Its weakness is that it may not help us answer the question of how to act in this non-ideal world. Discussions about the ethics of migration require a full range of perspectives using both approaches.
This article provides a conceptual map of the debate on ideal and non-ideal theory. It argues that this debate encompasses a number of different questions, which have not been kept sufficiently separate in the literature. In particular, the article distinguishes between the following three interpretations of the ‘ideal vs. non-ideal theory’ contrast: (i) full compliance vs. partial compliance theory; (ii) utopian vs. realistic theory; (iii) end-state vs. transitional theory. The article advances critical reflections on each of these sub-debates, and highlights areas for future research in the field.
This essay discusses the ethical issues raised by immigration to rich democratic states in Europe and North America. The article identifies questions about the following topics: access to citizenship, inclusion, residents, temporary workers, irregular migrants, non-discrimination in admissions, family reunification, refugees, and open borders. It explores the answers to these questions that flow from a commitment to democratic principles.
Many poor and oppressed people wish to leave their countries of origin in the third world to come to affluent Western societies. This essay argues that there is little justification for keeping them out. The essay draws on three contemporary approaches to political theory — the Rawlsian, the Nozickean, and the utilitarian — to construct arguments for open borders. The fact that all three theories converge upon the same results on this issue, despite their significant disagreements on others, strengthens the case for open borders and reveals its roots in our deep commitment to respect all human beings as free and equal moral persons. The final part of the essay considers communitarian objections to this conclusion, especially those of Michael Walzer.
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