Lectures by our Faculty Fellows and Recommended Reading.
Justice, National Borders, and Migration: Some Basic Principles
Aquinas argued that private property was a reasonable and appropriate way to settle on the distribution to particular persons of the goods given by God to mankind in general. These remarks follow up on a suggestion that the authority of states to determine who can and who cannot enter their territories is best understood on analogy to Aquinas’s understanding of private property. After an exposition of Aquinas’s views about property I suggest that national borders and their control by governments can be understood analogously to the case of property and that, accordingly, states are entitled to control their borders. This means that they have a right to regulate and even limit immigration. However, just as the teaching on property holds that in cases of necessity persons have a right in justice to what they need to survive, so refugees, persons in a condition of necessity because of, for example, natural disasters or state failure, have a right in justice to cross-border havens.
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Lecture Given By
V. Bradley Lewis