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Why volunteers should be activists: towards an ethics of ground relationships

André Grahle

Abstract

Much of the philosophical debate on the ethics of refugee reception focusses on the question of what states owe to refugees. The debate has only partially touched upon a whole range of ethical questions that become strikingly relevant on the ground. Here the reality cannot be fully understood in terms of a relationship between refugees and the state, but requires an additional account of responsibilities based on relationships between refugees and non-government personnel, as well as, and most importantly perhaps, between refugees and networks of volunteers and activists. In this chapter, the variety of relationships that are jointly constitutive of a certain volunteer- or activist-context, as well as the relationships formed by these contexts in reaching out to refugees, are referred to as ground relationships. Four reasons are explored as to why ground relationships merit philosophical attention within a wider project of a yet-to-be-developed ethics of flight and refugee arrival. Finally, a case is made for volunteers to become activists based on considerations of benevolence.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston