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CPP Colloquium with Christine Straehle: CANCELLED

  • Christine Straehle (Groningen)
Thursday 23 November 2017
CPP Colloquia 2017-2018
P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden

The Center for Political Philosophy in Leiden is pleased to announce a talk by

Christine Straehle (Groningen)

prof. dr. C. Straehle


One of the tenets of the liberal state is the divide between the public and the private sphere. Philosophers following the tradition of John Stuart Mill have argued that liberal democratic states ought to protect the private sphere of their members, and refrain from interfering into it, since it is in the private sphere that individuals can engage in ‘experiments of living,’ as Mill called it. This is to say that the private sphere is important for individuals in order to lead autonomous lives.

In this paper, I want to examine recent developments in asylum-granting states in light of the public-private divide. Asylum-granting states that are signatories to the Geneva Convention accept the principle of non-refoulement. The principle mandates that claims for asylum ought to be carefully assessed and evaluated in the country of first arrival. Countries that accept the principle of non-refoulement are seemingly prevented from doing several things: they cannot select refugees based on their expected capacity to integrate into the social fabric; they cannot delegate the duties of asylum to other states; and they cannot set limits on how many asylum claims they assess. Faced with such constraints, asylum-granting states have grown wary of possible abuses of the asylum system. The suspicion derives from a system that links the place of arrival and where the claim for asylum is made, and the place where one finds asylum. Based on the principle of non-refoulement that mandates states to assess asylum claims in the country of first landing, the link between claim and place of arrival provides incentives for refugees to arrive in rich democratic states and lodge their claim there, or so is the fear.

In light of this fear, asylum claims are by now scrutinized heavily, and asylum seekers are often asked to provide evidence of physical torture and abuses as the basis of their claim. Secondly, asylum-granting states have developed legislation that allows their police force to violate otherwise accepted and protected principles of individual privacy: asylum-seekers are restricted in their freedom of movement, they have to report to local authorities to show their presence in the assigned places, and police and immigration officials regularly check flats of asylum seekers for evidence of presence or absence.

In this paper, I assess the possible justifiability of such measures, and balance their possible gains with the limits that are set for the power of the liberal states. I investigate if the erosion of the public-private divide can be plausibly justified by the need to protect the negative liberty of citizens, by reasonable fear over security of citizens, or by the welfare concerns for both asylum seekers and citizens.

About Christine Straehle

Christine Straehle is Professor for Political Philosophy and Public Affairs and the Director of the Centre for Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Groningen. Her research interests are in political philosophy, ethics, questions of global justice, and conceptions of vulnerability and autonomy in moral philosophy.

Before joining the University of Groningen, Christine Straehle was Associate Professor of Ethics, Political and Social Philosophy in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and in the Philosophy Department at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She has received several fellowships and is a member of the Centre for PPE at the University, as well as a collaborator of the Centre de Recherche en Éthique (CRÉ) of the Université de Montréal and a research associate of the Global Justice Network based at the University of Frankfurt. In 2015-2016, she was John Stuart Mill Visiting Chair in Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Hamburg.

Professor Straehle is the author of Vulnerability, Autonomy and Applied Ethics (Routledge 2017) and co-author (with Patti T. Lenard) of Legislating Inequality: Temporary Labour Migration in Canada (Montreal: McGill Queens University Press 2012) and Health Inequalities and Global Justice (Edinburgh University Press 2012). She is the author of many book chapters and the editor of special issues in Ethics and International Affairs; CRISPP; Journal of International Political Theory; Journal of Applied Philosophy. Her articles have been published in, among others, Canadian Journal of Philosophy; CRISPP; Journal of Applied Philosophy; Bioethics; International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics; Politics, Philosophy, and Economics; Journal of International Political Theory; Contemporary Political Theory; and European Journal of Philosophy.

About the Center for Political Philosophy (CPP) Colloquia Series

The CPP is a collaboration between the Institute for Philosophy and the Institute for Political Science at Leiden University. Attendance of the Colloquia is free and there is no need to register. See CPP for more information. For further questions please contact dr. Dorota Mokrosinska at d.m.mokrosinska@phil.leidenuniv.nl

All are welcome!

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