Emigration in a Time of Cholera : Freedom, Brain Drain, and Human Rights

Law, Ethics and Philosophy 4:87-108 (2016)
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A number of philosophers argue that the earth’s resources belong to every- one equally. Suppose this is true. Does this entail that people have a right to migrate across borders? This article considers two models of egalitarian ownership and assesses their implications for immigration policy. The first is Equal Division, under which each person is granted an equal share of the value of the earth’s natural resources. The second is Common Ownership, under which every person has the right to use the earth’s natural resources, but not the right to exclude others from them. While these models and their associated ideas have a long history within Western political thought, this article will examine them as they are presented by two sets of contemporary philosophers: Hillel Steiner, who defends Equal Division, and Michael Blake and Mathias Risse, who defend Common Ownership. In the case of each model, the article does three things. First, it considers the implications of the model for immigration policy. Second, it defends the model against objections from those defending immigration restrictions. Third, it contends that the model does not go far enough in its opposition to immigration restrictions. More specifically, the article argues that both Equal Division and Common Ownership, as presented by their proponents, fail to respect the claims of people whose interest in the land is not primarily economic. If the earth belongs to everyone equally, then people should not be prevented from pursuing important migratory goals such as family reunification, career development and education. The article concludes with a proposal for com- bining Equal Division with Common Ownership. Under this combined model, peo- ple would be free to migrate across international borders.



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Kieran Oberman
London School of Economics

Citations of this work

More open borders and deep structural transformation.Adam James Tebble - 2021 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 24 (4):510-531.
More open borders and deep structural transformation.Adam James Tebble - 2021 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 24 (4):510-531.

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References found in this work

Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Moral Demands in Nonideal Theory.Liam B. Murphy - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Immigration, Jurisdiction, and Exclusion.Michael Blake - 2013 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 41 (2):103-130.

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