Sahar Akhtar Speaks on Immigration and State Obligations

Philosopher and economist Sahar Akhtar, Visiting Professor at Georgetown University, will give a talk on immigration and state obligations.

The talk will take place on October 19, 2022, from 4-5:30pm in the Fralin Hall Auditorium (Fralin Hall).

The talk is tailored to appeal to both faculty and students, with plenty of time for discussion and interaction with the guest speaker. The talk will be followed by a public reception. You are cordially invited to attend.

Here is an abstract of the talk: Challenges to the idea that states have the right to exclude have mainly focused on arguing that many or most immigration restrictions are morally wrong or that borders should be open, and thus that states lack a broad liberty-right to exclude. Such challenges have not shown that states lack a claim-right to exclude, or a right against outside interference to determine whom, if anyone, to admit into their borders. But an important, unexamined aspect of the claim-right is that states have the right against interference to wrongfully exclude, or the right to do wrong when making admission decisions. Indeed, several prominent immigration theorists, including Joseph Carens (despite his open-borders stance), more or less explicitly endorse the right to wrongfully exclude. If this position is accepted, a major implication is that even political or economic measures to affect states’ immigration policies are off the table—significantly compromising the prospect of meaningfully addressing the world’s growing refugee crisis. In this paper, I try to provide reason to reject this position. I demonstrate that, compared with more decent states, objectional states end up having a stronger moral justification for the right to wrongfully exclude in the relevant cases—insulating the very states we should be most concerned with. While the idea of individuals’ having a right to do wrong has received extensive attention, the idea applied to states has not; my paper examines the idea in the context where it seems the most widely accepted

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