1st Edition

The Ethics of Refugee Policy

By Christina Boswell Copyright 2005

    What duties do liberal democratic states owe to refugees? Does international refugee law impose unfeasible demands on states? This highly original contribution explores what theories of international ethics have to say about refugee policy. It advances an innovative critique of prevalent liberal approaches, showing how their assumptions about moral agency create unfeasible expectations about international justice. It sets out an alternative theory, showing how this could be more adept at mobilizing commitment to refugee rights. The volume will be of interest not just to scholars and students of applied ethics, but also to those more generally interested in debates on refugee and migration policy. It presents a clear and thorough discussion of liberal political theory and its application to questions of international justice, and provides insights into the philosophical sources of debates on liberal versus restrictive approaches to refugee policy.

    Contents: Preface; Introduction; The origins of the crisis in refugee policy; Liberal universalism and the problem of feasibility; Thin universalism and the problem of internal coherence; Social contract theory and moral motivation; The role of reason in moral motivation; Community and universal duties; Mobilizing commitment to refugee rights; Bibliography; Index.


    Christina Boswell

    'This book shows how one can justify a generous refugee policy from an ethical point of view to citizens with deep ethical ties to their own country. It is a highly intelligent, theoretically very well-informed and ethically most attractive work.' John Charvet, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK 'In this important contribution to international political theory, Christina Boswell explains how liberal refugee policy has been outflanked by nationalist and communitarian positions, and how its commitment to hospitality needs to be reworked to answer mounting criticisms.' Andrew Linklater, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK '...this is a useful contribution to the debate on refugee and migration policy and it sheds light, from a new angle, on the liberal/communitarian divide.' Political Studies Review