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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 8, 2016

Medical Brain Drain: Free-Riding, Exploitation, and Global Justice

Merten Reglitz


In her debate with Michael Blake, Gillian Brock sets out to justify emigration restrictions on medical workers from poor states on the basis of their free-riding on the public investment that their states have made in them in form of a publicly funded education. For this purpose, Brock aims to isolate the question of emigration restrictions from the larger question of responsibilities for remedying global inequalities. I argue that this approach is misguided because it is blind to decisive factors at play in the problem of medical brain drain and consequently distorts the different responsibilities this problem generates. Brock’s strategy, if successful, would effectively lead to punishing emigrating workers from poor states for the free-riding and exploitation that is committed by affluent states – which is a counter-intuitive result.


For comments I thank Daniel Callies, Art Held, Eszter Kollar, Darrel Moellendorf, and two anonymous reviewers of Moral Philosophy & Politics. I particularly would like to thank Eszter Kollar for organizing the workshop that this commentary was presented at. This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) funded Cluster of Excellence ‘Normative Orders’ at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.

Published Online: 2016-3-8
Published in Print: 2016-4-1

©2016 by De Gruyter