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Reconciling Self-determination and Global Equality of Opportunity: The Case of Immigration

Prof. Dr. Eszter Kollar
Friday, June 2, 2023, 9:30 am – 11:00 am

This keynote lecture by Prof. Dr. Eszter Kollar takes place as part of the 4th POLEMO Symposium.

Abstract An important philosophical question underlying pressing political conflicts today is the following: What is the permissible scope of exclusion by self-determining political communities, in light of weighty global moral demands of inclusion? The immigration debate in political theory has produced a series of accounts that justify the state’s right to exclude potential immigrants based on the people’s right of self-determination. The paper argues for a novel normative account of the value of self-determination, the ‘people relationship goods’ account, which justifies a circumscribed right to exclude and a corollary duty to include immigrants. Instead of prioritizing either self-determination or global equality of opportunity, this account reconciles the self-determination-based claims of citizens to shape their future polity and determines its legitimate scope in light of prospective immigrants’ equally important claim that their country of birth should not determine their life prospects in a morally arbitrary way. ‘People relationship goods’ support extensive equal opportunity-based inclusion and permit exclusion only when  the locals’ well-being interest or agency interest in non-alienation from the political project is at stake.

Bio | Eszter Kollar is Associate Professor of Philosophy at RIPPLE-Research in Political Philosophy and Ethics, Institute of Philosophy at KU Leuven. Previously she held the Interim Chair of International Political Theory at the Goethe University Frankfurt, and was a Research Fellow at the Normative Orders Excellence Cluster. Prior to that she was a research fellow in Political Philosophy and Bioethics at the University of Münster and a Hoover Fellow in Economic and Social Ethics at UC Louvain. She earned her degrees from the Central European University, the Eötvös Loránd University and the LUISS University of Rome. She is the principal investigator of the “Just Migration Research Group” at KU Leuven, and her research focuses on the political philosophy of social and global justice and the ethics of migration and refuge. Her recent publications include “From surplus fairness to prospect fairness: Why a deeply egalitarian social union is indispensable for a free Europe,” European Journal of Philosophy (2022).