Social and Legal Philosophy
Colloquium Series 2014
Justice in Immigration
Professor David Miller
Nuffield College, University of Oxford
Wednesday 5th February 2014, 4-7pm
About this Colloquium
This paper starts from the assumption that (legitimate) states have a general right to control their borders and decide who to admit as future citizens. These decisions, however, should be guided by principles of justice. But which principles? To answer this we have to analyse the multifaceted relationships that may hold between states and prospective immigrants, distinguishing on the one hand between those who are either inside or outside the state’s territory, and on the other between refugees, economic migrants and ‘particularity claimants’. The claims of refugees, stemming from their human rights, are powerful though limited in scope: they hold against receiving states generally rather than the specific one to which they apply for asylum. Economic migrants cannot claim a right to be admitted as such, but only a right to have legitimate criteria of selection applied to them. In the case of particularity claimants, such as those seeking redress for harms inflicted on them or reward for the services they have rendered to the state, the main question is why awarding a right to enter should be the appropriate response to their claims. The paper concludes by asking how far principles of justice can be used to establish priorities between these different categories of migrants.
Biography of the speaker
Professor Miller initially trained in philosophy at Selwyn College, Cambridge and in politics at Balliol College, Oxford, and after spells teaching at the Universities of Lancaster and East Anglia, he was appointed to his present post at Nuffield College in 1979. He is affiliated to the University’s Department of Politics and International Relations, and to the Faculty of Philosophy.
What is perhaps most distinctive about Professor Miller’s work is its use of evidence from the social sciences to inform debates in political philosophy. His longest standing interest is in the idea of justice, originally social justice but now also global justice. Professor Miller has published three books about this: Social Justice (Clarendon Press, 1976), Principles of Social Justice (Harvard University Press, 1999) and most recently a collection of essays, Justice for Earthlings (Cambridge University Press, 2013). During the 1980s he worked on the idea of market socialism and published a book defending that system, Market, State, and Community (Clarendon Press, 1989). This led him to ask questions about the kind of political community within which policies of social justice could be pursued, leading to a sustained engagement with ideas of nationality and citizenship, including On Nationality (Clarendon Press, 1995) and Citizenship and National Identity (Polity Press, 2000). In the last decade he has combined work on national issues with work on global issues, culminating in National Responsibility and Global Justice (2007).
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