Münchner Kompetenzzentrum Ethik

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Migration and Ethics: Theoretical and practical perspectives

October 30 - November 3, 2017 | Venice International University | Dr Christine Bratu (LMU), Dr Jan-Christoph Heilinger (LMU), Dr Verina Wild (LMU)


The current events seem to leave little room for philosophical reflection: The EU has already started to enforce stricter rules to reduce numbers of refugees, the UK is leaving the EU with one major aim being to avoid more immigration and the US consider building a wall to keep out migrants from Central and South America. In this general climate, migrants and asylum seekers often face restrictions even of their basic human rights, e.g. in the area of health, along the migration route or once they entered the country of destination.
In the face of these developments, philosophical debate about the issue of migration is more necessary than ever – not only because it helps to understand and evaluate the world we live in, but because it touches upon fundamental moral issues such as the equality of people, the demands of justice and the constraints of political power.
The following questions will be (inter alia) discussed in the seminar: What, if any, are the limits to state sovereignty? Is it morally justifiable (or even morally required) that states only safeguard the basic interests of their own citizens, even if this occurs at the expense of the basic interests of non-citizens? Can there be such a thing as justified partiality towards one’s fellow citizens? And what are personal responsibilities of individual citizens towards migrants?


Preliminary program

Day 1: Foundations: National sovereignty; the challenge of impartiality; human rights
Day 2: Current debates I: Migration and the case for open borders
Day 3: Current debates II: Limitations to migration
Day 4: Practical challenges I: Individual responsibility; talking about/with migrants
Day 5: Practical challenges II: Migration and health; Human rights and sufficiency



The class will be open for students from all disciplines, but it will be particularly relevant for those in philosophy, political science, and public health ethics. Students can earn 9 ECTS.

Interested students are invited to submit a letter of motivation (max. 500 words) until July 10, 2017 to mke@lmu.de. We expect to be able to select up to 20 students for which travel expenses and accommodation will be covered.



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Brock, G., 2009, Global Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Carens, J., 2013, The Ethics of Immigration, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cole P., 2007, “Human Rights and the National Interest: Migrants, Healthcare and Social Justice”, J Med Ethics 33 (5): 269–272.
Cole, P. and Wellman, C., 2011, Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude? New York: Oxford University Press.
Dwyer J., 2015, “On Taking Responsibility for Undocumented Migrants”, Public Health Ethics 8 (2): 139–147.
Essex R.,2016, “Healthcare and clinical ethics in Australian offshore immigration detention”, The International Journal of Human Rights 20 (7): 1039–1053.
Gibney, Matthew, 2004, The Ethics and Politics of Asylum: Liberal Democracy and the Response to Refugees, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Miller, D., 2014, “Immigration: The Case for Limits,” in Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics, Second Ed., A. Cohen and C. Wellman (eds.), Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons, 363–375.
Scheffler, S., 2007, “Immigration and the Significance of Culture,” Philosophy & Public Affairs, 35: 93–125.
Seglow, J., 2005, “The Ethics of Immigration,” Political Studies Review, 3: 317–334.
Wild V., 2015, “ Universal Access to Health Care for Migrants: Applying Cosmopolitanism to the Domestic Realm”, Public Health Ethics 8 (2):162–172.