On Movement and Membership, and on Being German in the World Society
Over the years, Mathias Risse has written quite a bit on immigration, mostly exploring implications of humanity’s collective ownership of the earth. The main point to make that way is that, even though states are in principle justifiable and open borders not called for, states fail to have full discretion in setting immigration policies. Such policies must be evaluated from a global standpoint. This is a point worth making since it does not reflect the wide-spread view that immigration is a privilege a state may award as it sees fit. But this stance is rather abstract, seeing questions of immigration in terms of a proportionate distribution across collectively owned spaces. Some vexing questions – though this abstract standpoint should inform any sensible account of them – fail to get addressed heads-on, questions about conditions under which people have claims to one territory rather than another, as well as about conditions under which people have claims to memberships in particular communities, with accompanying questions about what acceptance of such claims would entail. Here he discusses some aspects of the second topic, with a focus on immigration debates in Germany. Section 2 sketches the basic framework of global justice (ground-of-justice approach) he introduces in On Global Justice (OGJ) and explores both historically and systematically in a book-in-progress tentatively entitled On Justice. Section 3 sums up what he has previously argued about immigration. Section 4 does the same for refugees. Immigration has a spatial component as well as an associational one. The spatial component concerns movement across jointly owned spaces. The associational one concerns questions about joining existing communities. His earlier work has amply addressed the former. Section 5 states the main implication of the grounds-of-justice approach for the latter, casting a positive light on immigration. That point is to some extent reined in by sections 6 and 7: immigration policies must have a human face in many senses, among them consideration for how much and what kind of immigration a community can absorb. For concreteness he discusses a notion debated in Germany, Leitkultur (guiding culture). While his take on that notion is generally positive he thinks Orientierungskultur (orienting culture) is more suitable. Section 8 adds a bit more context to this topic by touching on the idea of Europe. Sections 9 and 10 discuss variations on membership, partial membership and multiple memberships. Both are legitimate under certain circumstances but problematic under others. Section 11 concludes.
Mathias Risse is Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy at the Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government. He works mostly in social and political philosophy and in ethics. His primary research areas are contemporary political philosophy (in particular questions of international justice, distributive justice, and property) and decision theory (in particular, rationality and fairness in group decision making, an area sometimes called analytical social philosophy).