Immigration, Ethics, and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion: Methodological Reflections on Joseph Carens’ The Ethics of Immigration

Ethical Perspectives 21 (4):590-99 (2014)
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Abstract
In The Ethics of Immigration, Joseph Carens’ builds a sophisticated account of justice in immigration based on an interpretation of liberal states’ democratic principles and practices. I dispute Carens’ contention that his hermeneutic methodology supports a broadly liberal egalitarian consensus; instead, the consensus he detects on principles and practices appears because his interpretation presupposes liberal egalitarianism. Carens’ methodology would benefit by engaging with a “hermeneutics of suspicion” that explores the ideological and exclusionary facets of liberal egalitarian principles when applied to immigration. This would contribute to an account of the ethics of immigration that gives more attention to power and interest, mediated through structures of gender, race, and class.
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