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Taking moral equality seriously: Egalitarianism and immigration controls

Cole, Phillip


Phil Cole
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations


In this paper I re-state the egalitarian argument against the morality of immigration controls: such limits violate the central ethical commitment to moral equality. This means that immigration controls fail a fundamental moral test and represent the ethical failure of the liberal project of moral equality. I set this re-statement against recent arguments about what moral equality means, specifically Christopher Heath Wellman's use of Elizabeth Anderson's notion of relational equality. Wellman believes that Anderson's ideas seriously damage the egalitarian argument, but I argue that this is a misreading of her account. I conclude that any liberal attempt to morally justify immigration controls must fail through committing the basic logical error of ‘begging the question’.


Cole, P. (2012). Taking moral equality seriously: Egalitarianism and immigration controls. Journal of International Political Theory, 8(1-2), 121-134.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2012
Journal Journal of International Political Theory
Print ISSN 1755-0882
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 1-2
Pages 121-134
Keywords cosmopolitanism, egalitarianism, immigration, membership, moral, equality
Public URL
Publisher URL