The Ethics of Immigration symposium: index

by Chris Bertram on June 4, 2014

The first part of our symposium on Joseph Carens’s The Ethics of Immigration is now concluded. While we wait for Joe to compose his reply, here’s an index of the contributions:

Update: Joe Carens’s replies in two parts: Part One and Part Two.



Rakesh 06.04.14 at 3:07 pm

I am wondering whether there has been any in-depth discussion of the possible brain drain that poor nations would suffer from open borders. It wasn’t mentioned in the one contribution that I have read so far–Malik’s.


Matt 06.04.14 at 3:37 pm

I am wondering whether there has been any in-depth discussion of the possible brain drain that poor nations would suffer from open borders.

I don’t think there was much discussion of this issue in the symposium itself (though I read a few of the entries only very quickly) but there was some good discussion, especially in the comments by Caleb, in this pre-symposium post by Chris:


Ed Herdman 06.04.14 at 7:14 pm

@ Rakesh: I attempted to open that discussion that in at least one post or two, where I talked about the possibility of people bringing their culture with them. I believe the idea of open borders goes beyond worrying about a brain drain and actually challenges the very notions of nationality, specifically nationality that is strictly defined in certain traditional ways (geographic, cultural, et c.).

As a quick example, let’s imagine there are five “nations,” each with one person each (just imagine that this meets the minimum for having a resplendent national culture, so the number could be two, three, or many more). What happens when those people gain proximity, by moving to a closer physical proximity to one another? Beyond the economic multipliers, I’d also argue there are cultural and social multipliers as well. Just as those five nations grouped together can attain better common defense and technological improvements, perhaps also they can enrich each others’ cultures and even build a shared culture out of the contributions of each. At the same time, the new realities and challenges of shared life change the focus of each original nation’s inhabitants.

Yes, there are some threats to the traditional culture, but I’d argue that these tend to come from altering a relationship to a unique land, or from ending cultural isolation and challenging a homogeneous culture. None of these things (or the challenges to them) are necessarily bad, but are they the best? Of course we have been seeing this process for decades, via mass media and the global market (Hollywood, TV, blue jeans, McDonalds, and Coca-Cola!) so I wouldn’t just leave it there and pretend there is no bad that comes along with it. However, I would caution against being too strongly enamored of belief in a steady-state culture or nationality, as if people have ever been immune to these kinds of changes except in cases of deprivation.

Very briefly, another challenge to the “brain drain” worries focuses more on the economic aspect. What would it mean if we had a landmass, split in two by arbitrary political boundaries, but we had people following opportunities (oil industry jobs, a nomadic lifestyle, shopping for the best colleges) that do not respect this boundary? While new vistas do give opportunities for new change, they don’t necessarily challenge one’s conception of group status.


djw 06.04.14 at 7:17 pm

Oberman has a thoughtful and convincing assessment of the brain drain–>immigration restrictions argument here:


Rakesh 06.04.14 at 9:57 pm

Thank you for the Oberman paper, djw. Another angle on immigration: Achille Mbembe on the banlieue riots of 2005–colonial and neo-colonial systems led to migration; they also reinforced the prejudice that led to high unemployment. Yet another angle: Aviva Chomsky has a new book out on immigration; I learned a lot from her last book on the myths of immigration. Still another angle: Denaturalizing Citizenship: A Symposium on Linda Bosniak’s The Citizen and the Alien and Ayelet Shachar’s The Birthright Lottery


James Wimberley 06.08.14 at 12:31 pm

Call that an index? It’s a table of contents. For a proper index, prepared at vast expense by a Professional Indexer, consult 1066 And All That, or Edmund Bentley’s Clerihews. Sample from the latter: “Unsung. resolve not to be (KELLERMANN, WELLINGTON, SHERMAN)”


James Wimberley 06.08.14 at 2:00 pm

PS. E.C. Bentley took thoroughness to the limit for his clerihew on Stubbs:

Bishop Stubbs
Was expelled from all his clubs
For disparaging the Oxford crew
In The Quarterly Review

The index references Stubbs under:
Bullingdon Club
Chelsea Arts Club
Done, not
Eccentric Club
Escutcheon, blot on
Form, bad
Hell-Fire Club
Jockey Club
Limit, the
Sheffield Wednesday Football Club
Tailwaggers’ Club
Wootton Basset Darts Club
Xenophon Club
There is no page numbering in my early (1951) edition and the entries are not in alphabetical order. Borgès would have approved.

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