“The Ethics of Migration Policy Dilemmas,” guest edited by Rainer Bauböck, Julia Mourão Permoser, Martin Ruhs and Lukas Schmid.
We feature that identify and analyze a fundamental ethical dilemma in policy-making on migration and refugee protection as it presents itself to policy-makers and other actors in the field (e.g. NGOs). The discussion of the dilemmas should be value-based as well as fact-based and empirically grounded. Our aim is to bring a new perspective to normative debates in migration studies: one that finds its point of departure in concrete policy dilemmas as faced by actors on the ground, and that relates such dilemmas to normative principles discussed in the ethics of migration literature. In doing so, we aim to help bridge the gaps between normative theories and empirical analyses of migration policies.
The focus of each contribution should be on a “hard” ethical dilemma. We understand hard ethical dilemmas to involve conflicting morally worthy goals or values. Dilemmas are ethical ones if they involve choices between morally worthy goals that cannot be easily ranked and they are hard if these goals cannot be reconciled through purely theoretical reflection in such a way that the dilemma could be considered as misconstrued or resolved. In other words, any particular course of action taken to address a hard dilemma will have some moral costs, in the sense that any policy choice will necessarily involve sacrificing something that is also of moral value for the sake of pursuing a particular path.
The thematic cluster is part of a broader new research agenda initiated by the editors that aims to expand the focus of existing normative research on migration by adopting a problem-oriented, ‘bottom-up’ approach, and by focusing on policy dilemmas. In 2023 and 2024 a series of articles on particular dilemmas commissioned by the editors will be published in Comparative Migration Studies. First contributions to the ‘Dilemmas’ research agenda can already be accessed here: https://migrationpolicycentre.eu/projects/dilemmas/.
The dilemmas website serves as a debating forum for the articles published in CMS. Papers accepted for publication will be included as “lead articles” in the dilemmas project of the European University Institute’s Migration Policy Centre, where we will organize a debate for each of the published articles. For each debate forum, we invite 4-5 scholars to critically discuss a paper and the initial author(s) to write a rejoinder. All contributions are published on our website. To see an example, please visit: https://migrationpolicycentre.eu/projects/dilemmas/