Cosmopolitan Justice and Immigration: A Critical Theory Perspective

Prof. Omid Payrow Shabani
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The pressures of globalization have resulted in shrinking distances and increased contact among people, rendering state boundaries and jurisdiction insufficient to deal with claims of justice exclusively. This challenge requires that we move beyond the limits of statism in political theorizing and acquire a cosmopolitan approach. In this paper, from a discourse theoretic perspective I consider what would cosmopolitan justice entail for policy making concerning immigration.

I trace the origin of the international law concerning immigration in Kant and his idea of right to hospitality, which reveals a distinction between the right to hospitality as a moral right that is not enforceable and the privilege of membership as a legal right. Traditionally, political theory in privileging the latter view has relegated immigration and naturalization matters to the lower law. I argue that (a) from a moral point of view we cannot consider the problem of migration solely from the perspective of the people of affluent countries and have to take into account the perspective of the refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants; (b) the growing interdependency of global economies gives rise to a moral obligation to assist the immigrants with special duties devolving upon the First World as the result of the history of colonization. Thus, given that a moral claim to migration exists, I argue that immigration law ought to be integrated into constitutional law-making. In doing so, the discourse theoretic approach decouples national sovereignty (territorial integrity) and democratic polity, overcoming the problem of prioritization of geography over claims of membership.

Keywords: Political Theory, Cosmopolitan Justice, Globalization, Discourse ethics
Stream: Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness, Political Science, Politics
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Prof. Omid Payrow Shabani

Assistant Professor, Philosophy department, University of Guelph

Prof. payrow Shabani completed his doctoral work at the University of Ottawa, after which he was an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the New School for Social research in new York. He is currently assistant Professor of philosophy at teh University of Guekph, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of the following books: Democracy Power, and Legitimacy: the Critical Theory of Jurgen Habermas (University of Toronto Press, 2003), and Multiculturalism and Law: A Critical Debate (Univeristy of Wales Press, Forthcoming). He is also the author of many articles including "Language Policy and Diverse Societies: Constitutional Patriotism and Minority Language Rights," Constellation, Vol. 11, No. 2, June 2004; and "Who is Afraid of Constitutional Patriotism? The Binding Source of Citizenship in Constitutional States," Social Theory and Practice, 28 (3), 2002.

Ref: H06P0215