The Open Borders Debate on Immigration

Philosophy Compass 4 (5):813-821 (2009)
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Global migration raises important ethical issues. One of the most significant is the question of whether liberal democratic societies have strong moral obligations to admit immigrants. Historically, most philosophers have argued that liberal states are morally free to restrict immigration at their discretion, with few exceptions. Recently, however, liberal egalitarians have begun to challenge this conventional view in two lines of argument. The first contends that immigration restrictions are inconsistent with basic liberal egalitarian values, including freedom and moral equality. The second maintains that affluent, liberal democratic societies are morally obligated to admit immigrants as a partial response to global injustices, such as poverty and human rights violations. This article surveys the main philosophical arguments for these positions on immigration and discusses the critical responses to these arguments.



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Shelley Wilcox
San Francisco State University

Citations of this work

The right to exclude.Michael Blake - 2014 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17 (5):521-537.
The ethics of resisting immigration law.Javier Hidalgo - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (12):e12639.
Detaining immigrants and asylum seekers: a normative introduction.Stephanie J. Silverman - 2014 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17 (5):600-617.

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References found in this work

Famine, affluence, and morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 19 (1):1-7.
Political Theory and International Relations.Charles R. Beitz - 1979 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Immigration: The Case for Limits.David Miller - 2005 - In Andrew I. Cohen & Christopher Heath Wellman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 193-206.

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