Macquarie University
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The theory of recognition and the ethics of immigration

posted on 2022-03-28, 15:36 authored by Ruth Elizabeth Cox
This thesis examines the theory of recognition and applies it in the context of Australian immigration laws, policies and procedures. Part One (Chapter One) of the thesis addresses the question "What is recognition?", before turning to Axel Honneth's theory of recognition and the connections between his theory and other theories. In Part Two (Chapters Two, Three and Four), I consider a number of challenges that have been raised against Honneth's theory by Patchen Markell, Kelly Oliver and Nancy Fraser and I defend Honneth's theory against each of these challenges. I also raise my own questions about Honneth's account of the connection between esteem, achievement and social solidarity, and I consider whether questions of recognition of lack of recognition must be posed within the boundaries of a nation state. -- In Part Three (Chapters Five and Six), I apply Honneth's theory in the context of Australian immigration. I argue that recognition in terms of love, respect and esteem can be linked to the categories of family, humanitarian and skilled/economic migration and I contend that there is a close relationship between social frameworks of recognition and the mechanisms of social inclusion or exclusion that occur in immigration laws, policies and practice. I claim that interpreting the context of immigration in this way helps us to understand both its social function and its normative significance. In the final chapter, I revisit the challenges to Honneth's theory and reconsider them in the context of the immigration policies. I argue that Honneth's account of the role of struggles for recognition and its connection to social progress is particularly useful for understanding the "moral grammar' and issues of justice that are at stake.


Table of Contents

Part One: The concept of recognition -- 1. The concept of recognition -- Part Two: Major challenges to Honneth's theory -- 2. The problems of non-reciprocal recognition -- 3. Recognition and redistribution -- 4. Problems with the achievement principle -- Conclusion to Part Two -- Part Three: Recognition and immigration -- 5. Australian immigration -- 6. Revisiting the challenges to recognition theory in the context of immigration -- Conclusion


December 2009 Bibliography: p. 232-235

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Dept. of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Nicholas Smith


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Ruth Elizabeth Cox 2010.






235 p

Former Identifiers

mq:20040 1649590