Inclusive Membership as Fairness? A Rawlsian Argument for Provisional Immigrants

In: Danish Yearbook of Philosophy
Esma Baycan-Herzog Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland,

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Infamously, Rawls assumed a democratic society to be “a complete and closed social system,” in that “entry into it is only by birth and exit from it is only by death.” Since the beginning of the present millennium, however, debates about the ethical issues related to immigration have been prominent. In this context, these methodological departure points seem long outdated, if not simply biased. This paper will rework Rawls’s theory of migration for application to the case of provisional immigrants by reworking its theoretical underpinnings. I will argue that once his assumptions are adjusted, Rawlsian notions of ‘stability’ in conjunction with his idea of a ‘society understood as a fair system of cooperation’ justify inclusive membership regimes. In other words, Rawlsian domestic justice requires inclusive membership regimes for provisional immigrants.

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