Towards a Theory of Arbitrary Law-making in Migration Policy


  • Patricia Mindus Department of Philosophy,Uppsala University



The article considers what arbitrary law-making is and what may count as arbitrary law-making in the field of migration policy. It contributes to the discussion of arbitrary law-making in relation to migration policy in two ways. First, it offers an analysis of arbitrariness, pointing out that rhetorical definitions abound – perhaps not surprisingly, given that migration is a highly-contested policy area – and argues for why transposing a conception developed in ethical theory to the law has high theoretical costs. An alternative conception is described and found to be better equipped to deal with arbitrary law-making in migration policy. It is argued that if we want to understand how arbitrariness plays out in the field of migration law – which is necessary to find ways to hinder its spread by the adoption of specific law-making practices – we first need to distinguish arbitrariness from legitimate choices of legislators. Secondly, a typology of forms of arbitrariness is fleshed out in relation to contemporary migration policy. The policy area is here broadly construed to include not only naturalisation processes, but also migration, asylum and refugee policies and more generally border control. The examples are taken from a broad selection of countries. They have been chosen for illustrative purposes only.

Keywords: arbitrariness, discretion, arbitrary power, forms of arbitrary power, borders, migration policy, citizenship policy


Download data is not yet available.




How to Cite

Mindus, P. (2020). Towards a Theory of Arbitrary Law-making in Migration Policy. Etikk I Praksis - Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics, 14(2), 9-33.



Artikler - Articles