The Rock Ethics Institute

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Home > Events > Job Talk - Just Borders: Place-Specific Duties and the Rights of Immigrants

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Job Talk - Just Borders: Place-Specific Duties and the Rights of Immigrants

Does physical presence in a territory confer social and political rights on all those present? Recently, many scholars have argued that legal citizenship cannot be the sole source of rights, and hence they have advocated for place-specific rights for immigrants. These scholars often stress immigrants’ ties to a political community. But, if ties to the political community are the main criterion for rights, then it seems that place and territory do no real work in the argument. In this presentation, I propose that we take place seriously, rather than just treating it as a dummy concept that has membership do the real argumentative work. The talk shows that there are place-specific duties, a special type of duty indexed to place. These duties comprise a level of morality that layfolk intuitively recognize, but theorists routinely overlook. The talk then shows that these place-specific duties cannot be properly fulfilled by citizens unless they grant non-citizens who are present in the locality rights to stay, and also grant them rights to participate in the jurisdiction’s political organization. The talk will conclude by discussing how the thesis of place-specific duties has important implications for theories of immigrants’ rights, normative theories of resource management and environmental stewardship, and theories of territorial jurisdiction and of the justification of the modern state’s territorial boundaries.
by Rob Peeler Jan 09, 2017
When Jan 27, 2017
from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Where 401 Steidle Building, University Park, PA 16802
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Speaker

Ana Paulina Ochoa Espejo headshotAna Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Haverford College

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Abstract

Does physical presence in a territory confer social and political rights on all those present? Recently, many scholars have argued that legal citizenship cannot be the sole source of rights, and hence they have advocated for place-specific rights for immigrants. These scholars often stress immigrants’ ties to a political community. But, if ties to the political community are the main criterion for rights, then it seems that place and territory do no real work in the argument. In this presentation, I propose that we take place seriously, rather than just treating it as a dummy concept that has membership do the real argumentative work. The talk shows that there are place-specific duties, a special type of duty indexed to place. These duties comprise a level of morality that layfolk intuitively recognize, but theorists routinely overlook. The talk then shows that these place-specific duties cannot be properly fulfilled by citizens unless they grant non-citizens who are present in the locality rights to stay, and also grant them rights to participate in the jurisdiction’s political organization. The talk will conclude by discussing how the thesis of place-specific duties has important implications for theories of immigrants’ rights, normative theories of resource management and environmental stewardship, and theories of territorial jurisdiction and of the justification of the modern state’s territorial boundaries.