Matthew Lindauer


According to the traditional state sovereignty view in the ethics of immigration literature, societies have a great deal of latitude in determining and implementing their immigration policies. This view is typically defended by appealing to the rights of members of societies, for instance to political self-determination. Opponents of the view have often criticized its partiality to members, arguing that nonmembers can also make stringent demands on societies to be admitted and given the same treatment in matters of immigration policy as other nonmembers. In this paper, I take a different approach to responding to the state sovereignty view. I argue that even if we grant the premise that the rights of members generally trump the rights of nonmembers in matters of immigration policy, societies are greatly constrained in setting their immigration policies by considerations of domestic justice. The considerations that I focus on involve relationships between members and nonmembers that hold due to a shared quality or set of qualities on the basis of which members identify with nonmembers. The argument appeals to premises and principles that defenders of the state sovereignty view are committed to but concludes that this view cannot serve as a satisfactory framework for the normative assessment of immigration policies.