Should we open borders? Yes, but not in the name of global justice

Ethics and Global Politics 15 (2):55-68 (2022)
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Some proponents of global justice question that opening borders is an effective strategy to alleviate global poverty and reduce inequalities between countries. This article goes a step further and asks whether an open borders policy is compatible with the objectives of global distributive justice. The latter, it will be argued, entails the ordering of needs, the assignment of priorities and the preference or subordination of some interests over others. In other words, global justice requires the establishment of conditions and restrictions on mobility. On the contrary, open borders claim an unrestricted and unconditional (not unqualified) freedom of movement, limited only by public health considerations, serious threats to national security or democratic institutions, but not by an aspiration for maximizing global redistributive utility. The main point is that not only would freedom of movement be instrumentalized, losing its presumptive moral force, but ultimately open borders as a remedy of global justice are an oxymoron. The article concludes with an alternative defence of freedom of international movement.

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