The Statist Approach to the Philosophy of Immigration and the Problem of Statelessness

Keywords: statelessness, immigration, nationalism, human rights, cosmopolitanism


The issue of statelessness poses problems for the statist (or nationalist) approach to the philosophy of immigration. Despite the fact that the statist approach claims to constrain the state’s right to exclude with human rights considerations, the arguments statists offer for the right of states to determine their own immigration policies would also justify citizenship rules that would render some children stateless. Insofar as rendering a child stateless is best characterized as a violation of human rights and insofar as some states have direct responsibility for causing such harm, the problem of non-refugee stateless children points to greater constraints than most statists accept on states’ right to determine their own rules for membership. While statists can ultimately account for the right not to be rendered stateless, recognizing these additional human rights constraints ultimately weakens the core of the statist position.

Author Biography

Stephen E Mathis, Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts USA
Associate Professor of Philosophy


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