January 22, 2012


Christopher Heath Wellman & Phillip Cole, Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude? (Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2011) ("In this volume we articulate and defend opposing positions on the ethics of immigration. Wellman defends a legitimate state's right to exclude outsiders, and Cole counters that countries have no moral right to prevent people form crossing their borders. While each author aims to advance the current debate among professional philosophers, lawyers, and political theorists, we have taken pains to write in clear, jargon-free language. Thus, while this book will no doubt be of interest to professionals working on the topic, it has been designed and written expressly for adoption in any graduate or undergraduate course that seeks to explore the morality of immigration." Id. at 3. Highly recommended for law students seriously interested in thinking through , and thinking deeply or philosophically about, immigration policy. Cole writes: "I have always understood philosophy as the activity of critically questioning the fundamental assumptions that shape our worldviews, which are very often hidden within those worldviews and taken for granted in everyday life and commonsense thinking. Some of these assumptions are highly abstract, such as the assumption that when you leave the room you are in, its contents will continue to exist just as you perceive them now (an assumption which on philosophical reflection, turns out to be highly questionable). Others are more practical, and many of the arguments that states have the right to control immigration are based around these kinds of 'commonsense' assumptions about what the world is, and can be, like. Philosophy is about thinking about these core beliefs and subjecting them to critical scrutiny. Of course there is a dispute about what this can achieve, Some would say the end result is that we demonstrate which of these beliefs are true; while others would say that all we can do is show that some of these beliefs are reasonably plausible. I take a mixed view, that in some cases a belief can be shown to be true, and in other reasonable plausibility is the best we can do. But even if all we can say is that a belief is implausible and unreasonable, we have given people a good reason not to hold it." Id. at 166-167. With law schools' increasing and misguided emphasis on rendering their graduates "practice ready," there will be an increased focus on the practical. And, there will be a decline in giving meaningful scrutiny to ideas and seriously questioning law students' worldviews. The law, the legal profession, lawyers, and society will be worse off as a result.).