Immigrant Rights and Regional Inclusion

Democratic Experimentalism in the European Union

in Theoria
Author: Jonathan Bowman
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Although justification and implementation of human rights are typically dealt with as separate issues, the lines between them become particularly opaque when dealing with contested rights claims, particularly those made by immigrant groups. The relevant lessons from Europe seem to indicate that in these sorts of cases, questions of justification can become embedded in deliberative practices that lead to their greater institutional entrenchment. The heterogeneity of deliberative practices out of diverse Member State administrative contexts can be turned into an epistemic virtue when including additional perspectives that increase the likelihood of avoiding error and alleviating bias. With a focus on immigrant rights in the EU, I first give a stylized rendition of the shortcomings of three views—post-national rights theorists, liberal nationalists, and cosmopolitans. In contrast, experimentalists highlight the democratic potential of realizing rights on a pragmatic model of the Open Method of Coordination that better responds to regional problems not necessarily tied to a single site of sovereignty. Since immigrants in the EU are party to multiple overlapping political communities, the democratic justification of rights in contested cases can be directly tied to this novel institutional implementation, forging a modified social imaginary in the process for all affected actors.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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