1st Edition

Freedom, Culture, and the Right to Exclude On the Permissibility and Necessity of Immigration Restrictions

By Uwe Steinhoff Copyright 2022

    This book argues that citizens have a moral right to decide by which criteria they grant migrants citizenship, as well as to control access to their territory in the first place. In developing and defending this argument, it critically engages numerous objections, thus providing the reader with a thorough overview of the current debate on the ethics of immigration and exclusion.

    The author’s argument is based on a straightforwardly individualist and liberal starting point. One of the rights granted by liberalism is freedom of association, which also comprises the right not to associate with people with whom one does not want to associate. While this is an individual right, it can be exercised collectively like many other individual rights. Thus, people can decide to collectively organize into an association pursuing certain goals; and subject to certain provisos, this gives rise to legitimate claims to space and territory in which they pursue these goals. The author shows that this right is far-reaching and robust, which entails an equally far-reaching and robust right to exclude. Moreover, he demonstrates that large-scale immigration from illiberal cultures tends to severely compromise the way of life, the values, and the institutions of liberal democracies in ways routinely ignored by apologists for multiculturalism.

    Freedom, Culture, and the Right to Exclude will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in applied ethics, political philosophy, political theory, and law.

    1. Introduction

    2. Exclusion and Justification: On Imagined Burdens and Irrelevant Questions

    3. "Cantilever Arguments," International Law, and the Protection of Culture: Turning the Tables on Defenders of Open Borders

    4. Freedom of Association, Democracy, and the Right to Exclude

    5. Enforcement and Resistance at the Border

    6. Rehabilitating Allegedly Impermissible or Overblown Reasons for Exclusion: Race, the Cultural Protection of a Free Society, and Crime


    Uwe Steinhoff is Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of On the Ethics of War and Terrorism (2007), The Philosophy of Jürgen Habermas (2009), On the Ethics of Torture (2013), Self-Defense, Necessity, and Punishment (Routledge, 2019), and The Ethics of War and the Force of Law: A Modern Just War Theory (Routledge, 2021). He is also the editor of Do All Persons Have Equal Moral Worth? (2015).