Immigration Policy and "Immanent Critique" [Excerpt]

Ethics & International Affairs

Professor Joseph Carens, in his thought-provoking and eloquently written essay "The Rights of Irregular Migrants," defends the view that irregular migrants have a moral claim to a broad range of rights in a liberal democratic state that goes beyond their claim to basic procedural and liberty rights. I want to reflect here on the method that Carens uses to extract the reasons that may support, or ground, this assertion—namely, that of immanent, or internal, critique. This is an approach to normative ethical reasoning that grounds moral prescriptions on the not yet realized normative purpose of the institution or practice for which change is sought—in this case the immigration policies of liberal democratic states.

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