The Structural Injustice of Forced Migration and the Failings of Normative TheoryPerspectives on Global Development and Technology
AbstractI propose to criticize two strands of argument - contractarian and utilitarian – that liberals have put forth in defense of economic coercion, based on the notion of justifiable paternalism. To illustrate my argument, I appeal to the example of forced labor migration, driven by the exigencies of market forces. In particular, I argue that the forced migration of a special subset of unemployed workers lacking other means of subsistence (economic refugees) cannot be redeemed paternalistically as freedom or welfare enhancing in the long run. I further argue that contractarian and utilitarian approaches are normatively incapable of appreciating this fact because the kinds of reasons that they adduce for justifying the long-term freedom-enhancing consequences of forced migration are not ones that would be acceptable to the migrants themselves. I conclude that only a discourse ethical approach, which mandates direct, empathetic communication between would-be migrants and members of potential host communities, captures the full range of reasons that would be acceptable to both migrants and members of these communities. These reasons – appealing both to agency-enhancing communal attachments as well as to agency-enhancing freedom of choice – fully reveals the extent to which a global capitalist system composed of relatively closed national communities coerces the world’s poorest migrants.
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© 2012 Brill
Citation InformationIngram, D. "The Structural Injustice of Forced Migration and the Failings of Normative Theory." Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 11(4) 2012: 50-71.