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Beyond reason: The philosophy and politics of immigration

Cole, Phillip


Phil Cole
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations


In this paper, I critically address the role of arbitrary and contingent features in philosophical debates about migration. These features play a central role, and display the importance of unreason in the debate and the limits of rational criticism. Certain elements of political thought have to be taken as given, as essential starting points or indispensable building blocks. As such, they cannot be exposed to rational criticism. Political arrangements such as national borders, nation-states and national identities constitute these building blocks, and justify coercive borders in order to sustain them. If we are to subject these arrangements to critical examination, then we move beyond the limits of liberal political philosophy. I examine theorists who take this kind of approach to the ethics of immigration: Michael Blake, Samuel Scheffler and David Miller. I argue that such approaches ask us to balance arbitrary and contingent features of the political world against the non-contingent moral equality of the migrant. If we are to recognize the migrant as an equal reason-giver in the moral contestation of borders, then we are compelled to theorize beyond these limits, and to theorize instead about a global community of equals, a post-national world made up of transnational belonging. © 2014 Taylor and Francis.


Cole, P. (2014). Beyond reason: The philosophy and politics of immigration. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 17(5), 503-520.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 3, 2014
Journal Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Print ISSN 1369-8230
Electronic ISSN 1743-8772
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 5
Pages 503-520
Keywords immigration, nation-state, unreason, borders
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