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Immigration and Freedom

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Restrictions on the movement of people to the countries developed west are often defended on the grounds that it is necessary to protect the liberal democratic values that might otherwise be undermined by uncontrolled immigration. Pre-eminent among these are the values of freedom and equality. More careful examination, however, suggests that the threat to these values comes not so much from immigration as from efforts to control it. Though it might appear that immigration restrictions are controls on would-be immigrants, they are in fact, to a very significant degree, controls on citizens—controls not on outsiders but on insiders. The more vigorously immigration control is pursued, the more surely is the freedom of people within a society compromised. This lecture elaborates of the ways in which this is true, and considers the question of whether immigration control might be warranted nonetheless because of the benefits it brings in spite of these costs that come with it.


Chandran Kukathas holds the Chair of Political Theory in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics. He previously taught at the University of Utah, the University of New South Wales (at the Australian Defence Force Academy), the Australian National University, and Oxford. He was also a visiting professor in the departments of Philosophy and Political Science at the National University of Singapore from 2009-2014. He is the author of a number of books including Hayek and Modern Liberalism (Oxford University Press 1989) and The Liberal Archipelago (Oxford University Press 2003). He is currently working on a book entitled Immigration and Freedom.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Lecture Series series.

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