Saturday, January 26, 2013

CFP: Open Borders, Lost Ideal (panel for Ideals and Reality in Social Ethics Conference, Newport, March 2013)

Ideals and Reality in Social Ethics, University of Wales, Newport 19-21 March 2013

Call for papers

Panel: Open Borders: past reality, lost Ideals

Conveners: Speranta Dumitru (University Paris Descartes) and Chris Bertram (University of Bristol)
The topic of “open borders” looks like an awkward one for research in social ethics. Unlike many other ideals which face costs and feasibility constraints as a real challenge, the case for open borders, a reality until the 20th century, is rarely considered in social ethics and remains under-theorized even as a costly and remote ideal.

This is all the more surprising as some rather powerful arguments exist in other research fields or from institutionalized practices. These arguments are both consequentialist and deontological. From a consequentialist point of view, controlling borders imposes huge costs on national governments, on economies and on individual lives, while re-opening borders could produce important gains in terms of global development. According to some economists’ estimates, removing barriers in labor mobility would double the world GDP (Clemens, 2011), while even a 3% increase would be worth more than aid, trade and debt relief combined (Pritchett, 2006). From a deontological perspective, freedom of movement is sometimes argued for within societies as a primary good (Rawls, 1993), a basic right (Shue, 1980) or central human capability (Nussbaum, 2000; Robeyns, 2003; Kronlid, 2008), but remains under-theorized at a global level. And while the right to leave any country has been institutionally recognized as a fundamental human right (UDHR, 1949), social ethicists have hitherto been mostly concerned by its negative effects on sending and receiving countries.

What do such theoretical predilections say about current research programmes in social ethics? Does a status quo bias influence normative research? Is freedom of movement an under-theorized concept beyond the field of migration? If open borders were to be defended as an ideal, what would be the means to achieve it?

To participate, please send abstracts of 300 words by 4th February to both conveners at and