Selling Citizenship: A Defence

Journal of Applied Philosophy 33 (3):223-239 (2015)
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Many people think that citizenship should not be for sale. On their view, it is morally wrong for states to sell citizenship to foreigners. In this article, I challenge this view. I argue that it is in principle permissible for states to sell citizenship. I contend that, if states can permissibly deny foreigners access to citizenship in some cases, then states can permissibly give foreigners the option of buying citizenship in these cases. Furthermore, I defend the permissibility of selling citizenship against the objections that selling citizenship values citizenship in the wrong way, corrupts civic norms, and unfairly discriminates against poor foreigners. I conclude by noting that, although selling citizenship is not intrinsically wrong, it could still be wrong for states to sell citizenship in practice. If existent immigration restrictions are unjust, then it may be impermissible for states to sell citizenship in the real world.

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Javier Hidalgo
University of Richmond


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