Author(s)Boudreaux, Benjamin Adam
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AbstractRecent political disputes in liberal democratic states involve the concerns of immigrants and concerns about immigration. These developments include protests across Europe related to the depiction of the prophet Mohammed; the 2005 London underground bombing; debates in Europe about proposed laws banning Islamic headcoverings; and ongoing debates in the U.S. about the influx of Spanish speakers. These developments suggest that recent immigration has potentially caused social disunity in states that strive to be tolerant of diversity. Many native-born citizens are now troubled by cultural and social changes stemming from immigrants. These citizens fear that some immigrants engage in practices antithetical to liberal values. They also fear that increased immigration will cause the loss of valuable national traditions. In addition to the concerns of the native-born, there are also concerns on the part of many immigrants about their acceptance in their new state. Immigrants face a difficult transition of integration, and they often feel stigmatized and alienated from native-born citizens. They also confront potentially discriminatory social or legal pressures to relinquish aspects of their identity or existing cultural practices. In this project, I investigate the concerns of native-born citizens and of immigrants to arbitrate some of the political disputes. I develop a philosophical model of social unity appropriate for liberal states based on the concept of the nation. This model of the nation is developed by determining the sorts of relationships that must exist between citizens for the state to be legitimate. I claim that citizens can share a commitment to the state and to tolerate one another through the operation of civic trust, developed and sustained through a history of cooperative interactions. I employ this model to clarify the reasonable demands on immigrants to assimilate into the receiving state, and the reasonable demands on the receiving state and native-born population to accommodate certain values and traditions of immigrants. I argue that these demands are `bi-directional' and involve reciprocal changes for both immigrants and the native-born. I apply this model to address some of the political debates described above, including the legitimacy of laws banning headscarves, the role of Islamic courts in liberal societies, and the value of a shared language within a state.