Migration Crisis and the Duty of Hospitality: A Kantian Discussion

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The European ideals – as well as the idea of Europe per se – are faced with a serious challenge due to recent migration crisis: it is not just the reflexes, the effectiveness and the policies, but also the consistency, the principles and the justification of the notion of the European Union that is in stake. Kant’s concept of universal hospitality could probably provide a good way out of this conundrum: while hospitality has largely been viewed as a solidarity-related imperfect duty towards others, that is, a less compelling duty that allows moral agents for certain latitude concerning the occasions and the degree of its implementation, Kant’s views allow for a totally different perspective, and, in my view, a much more philosophically nuanced one: hospitality might also be considered as an autonomy-based duty owed to others, and in this respect could count as a perfect, morally compelling duty. To the extent that the concept of Europe consists in humanitarian ideals that are based upon a strong philosophical humanistic tradition, I consider my claim to be in perfect harmony with the true spirit of Europe.

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Evangelos D. Protopapadakis
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens


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