About the project

Objective of the project

The research project Ethics of Immigration has two objectives: Firstly a more precise and adequate understanding of a global right to freedom of movement shall be gained as well as the methods and reference points by which it is to be substantiated. Secondly the basis for a promising application for a DFG-Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies on the topic Ethics of Immigration shall be created.

The research is based on the hypothesis that a right to freedom of movement can only be adequately ascertained if taking into account different reasons for migration and a range of empirical constraints.

Different research approaches from the social, political and economic sciences on the reasons and limitations for migration are considered from the philosophical and political theory perspectives and debated on the ground of their normative impact. The resulting findings are integrated into the discussions on the precise determination of the scope of the right to freedom of movement and constitute a central contribution to the research in the fields of global justice, political legitimacy and multiculturalism.


Work programme

The project is subdivided into three different phases.

The first phase of the project will examine whether the various reasons for emigration and immigration result in different legitimate claims or duties. The second phase will focus on the normative weight or legitimacy of different obstacles to immigration. These obstacles can have their basis in law, but also in other societal factors. Against the backdrop of these explorations, the third phase is devoted to the development of a precise understanding of the right to the freedom of movement as well as its contexts of realization.

At the same time, each phase of the project seeks to elucidate three cross-cutting methodological and practical-political questions. First, the entire discussion about the connection between the right to free movement, and the reasons for migration, as well as for legal and other obstacles to immigration, is directly relevant to the debate on the role of feasibility in real-world settings and other considerations of a non-ideal normative theory. Second, the inclusion of findings from the social sciences in normative discussions of the right to free movement raises the question of how to understand the relationship between the methods and background assumptions of these various disciplines. On the one hand, there must be criteria that help us to decide which empirical findings we should take into account when discussing normative questions; on the other hand, we need to understand how normative perspectives are already shaping and motivating empirical research. Third, we look forward to conversations with political actors and civic initiatives, and will seek to engage with those who take decisions in the field of immigration policy as well as with people who are affected by those decisions.