Call for Papers
Theme: Migrant Workers and Rights in a Global Justice Perspective
Subtitle: Between Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory
Type: International Workshop
Institution: Justice and Migration Research Group, KU Leuven
Location: Leuven (Belgium)
Labor migration is widely recognized as an effective tool to reduce
global poverty and inequality. However, migrant workers' integration
into foreign labor markets is not without its challenges. From a
normative standpoint, one of the more salient challenges lies in
working out ways to maximize the justice enhancing potential of labor
migration while minimizing the adverse effects that this can have on
domestic and migrant workers. These adverse effects follow from the
fact that boosting labor migration seems possible by limiting migrant
workers' rights in the host society – i.e., the numbers vs. rights
trade-off. Therefore, the expansion of labor migration to its maximum
potential creates a number of inescapable trade-offs, such as that
between prospective migrants' economic benefits and the vulnerability
they would face if their rights were extensively differentiated or,
at the EU level, that between posted workers' economic benefits and
the adverse effects of posted work's social dumping on domestic
Philosophers have taken diverging normative stances towards the
challenges of labor migration. Some, strongly concerned with the
damaging effects that rights differentiation can have on the
democratic ethos of society, oppose rights differentiation.
Conversely, others support extensive rights differentiation based on
the justice-enhancing potential of labor migration and the
agency-enhancing effects migration offers to migrant workers. This
baffling disagreement between liberal egalitarians is partly
substantiated by a disagreement in their understanding of the role
empirical facts, social practices, and feasibility conditions should
play in our normative theorizing. Nonetheless, this methodological
discussion has not been part of the normative debate on labor
migration and its role in the global justice agenda. Hence, this
workshop takes stock and debates the different ideal and non-ideal
theory approaches to the topic.
We invite submissions from all related academic fields, including
political and moral philosophy, political theory, legal theory, and
social theory. Possible topics include:
- Labor migration and the numbers vs. rights trade-off: is the rights
vs. numbers trade-off morally relevant in theorizing labor migration
- Different forms of labor migration (old and new): how are different
forms of labor migration (e.g., temporary labor migration, circular
migration, posted workers) affected by rights differentiation?
- Labor migration and feasibility constraints: how feasible should a
theory of labor migration justice be?
- Labor migration in a global context: do different normative
constraints apply in theorizing labor migration justice in the
South-South and South-North context?
- The burdens of labor migration: how should the burdens of rights
differentiation be distributed between (prospective) migrant workers
and domestic workers?
- Value trade-off in labor migration justice: how to assess the
trade-off between democratic equality and global distributive
- Labor migration and States: what responsibilities, if any, do
sending states have toward migrant workers? What are the
responsibilities of receiving states toward migrant workers?
- Labor migration and non-state actors: what responsibilities do
employers and recruitment agencies have towards migrant workers?
- Labor migration and international law: are the recent developments
in international law (e.g., the GCM) solid grounds for non-ideal
theorizing of labor migration justice?
This list is non-exhaustive, and submissions on related topics are
We have space for three more external speakers on our program. If you
are interested in participating in this expert workshop, please
submit an anonymized abstract of no more than 500 words, along with
an email including your name, title, and affiliation to:
The format of this particular panel is pre-read. Abstracts should
therefore be developed into a full paper. Participants will be asked
to give a brief (5-10 min) presentation of their paper as part of the
1-hour discussion session of their work. The deadline for submission
is December 20th, 2021. Notification of acceptance will be provided by
- Abstracts submission deadline: December 20th, 2021
- Notification sent to participants: February 15th, 2022
- Final submission of papers: May 9th, 2022
- Workshops: May 19th-20th, 2022
This workshop is organized as part of the “Justice and Migration”
project, funded by KU Leuven.
Mario Josue Cunningham Matamoros
Goethe University Frankfurt
If you have any questions regarding the workshop, please contact the
organizer, Mario Cunningham.
Mario J. Cunningham Matamoros, PhD
Research in Political Philosophy and Ethics Leuven (RIPPLE)
Andreas Vesaliusstraat 2 (office 01.58)