Migration, Political Philosophy, and the Real World

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In Strangers in Our Midst, David Miller develops a ‘realist’ political philosophy of immigration, which takes as its point of departure ‘the world as it is’ and considers what legitimate immigration policies would look like ‘under these circumstances’. Here I focus on Miller’s self-described realist methodology. First, I ask whether Miller actually does start from the ‘world as it is’. I note that he orients his argument around a particular vision of national communities and that, in so doing, he deviates from a description of ‘the real world’. In shifting between the descriptive and prescriptive without clearly acknowledging it, Miller undermines his claim to be outlining legitimate policies ‘under these circumstances’. I also question whether Miller’s picture of ‘the real world’ takes sufficient account of past injustice and its ongoing relationship to migration regimes. I maintain that there is a fundamental tension between Miller’s commitments to his brand of nationalism on the one hand, and his version of realism on the other hand.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Early online date26 Sept 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sept 2016


  • David Miller, immmigration, realism, nationalism


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