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David Miller on Immigration Policy and Nationality

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David Miller's recent statement of the case for restrictive immigration policies can plausibly be construed as an application of a ‘liberal nationalist’ position. The paper first addresses Miller's critique of distributive justice arguments for open borders, which relies on nationality as determinative of the scope of distributive justice and as giving rise to national collective responsibility. Three interpretations of his main positive reason for restricting immigration, which concerns the importance of a shared public culture, are then discussed: culture as having valuable social functions, as a context of choice, and as an object of self-determination. The paper assesses the plausibility of Miller's nationalist arguments, and concludes that they are either implausible or peculiarly weak compared to other considerations in favour of restrictions. Several of the arguments may alternatively be construed as non-nationalist, and it is argued that Miller's arguments are more plausible when considered as such. The broader implication is that, even if the concern with nationality is relevant and legitimate in other areas of politics, it is, perhaps surprisingly, either inappropriate or insignificant in relation to immigration policy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department for Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: 2007-08-01

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