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Immigration and the Democratic Stability Argument

Zoltan Miklosi

Abstract

According to the Democratic Stability Argument, since currently existing democratic states are overwhelmingly likely to play a leading role in the establishment of a just cosmopolitan order, should one ever be established, there are moral reasons to take measures that are necessary to preserve the adequate functioning of these states. If large-scale immigration can undermine their adequate functioning, then immigration restrictions are justified even from a cosmopolitan perspective, under non-ideal conditions. This paper argues that this argument may not succeed in justifying immigration restrictions under current conditions. Properly understood, the problem involves the competing claims of current poor admission-seekers and of the global poorest at some point in the future, i. e. the earliest feasible date of the establishment of the cosmopolitan order. The paper invokes normative arguments suggesting that the claims of the poorest in the distant future do not have lexical priority as a matter of principle. It also argues that available empirical estimates imply that the claims of admission-seekers in the present and near future potentially outcompete the claims of the poorest in the distant future. These considerations point towards a specification of the Democratic Stability Argument rather than to its complete rejection.

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Published Online: 2016-10-4
Published in Print: 2016-11-1

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