The Rights of Others

Aliens, Residents, and Citizens

The Rights of Others

This book explores the tension between universal principles of human rights and the self-determination claims of sovereign states as they affect the claims of refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants. Drawing on the work of Kant's "cosmopolitan doctrine" and positions developed by Hannah Arendt, Seyla Benhabib explores how the topic has been analyzed within the larger history of political thought. She argues that many of the issues raised in abstract debate between universalism and multiculturalism can find acceptable solutions in practice.


"Benhabib’s The Rights of Others shows – unflinchingly, astutely and bravely – that immigration remains such a pitched battle in the West because it is part of a larger war of ideas."
The Nation

"Benhabib’s book does political theory great service: it attends to the consequences of the empirical realities of the ‘fraying of state sovereignty’ and the ‘disaggregation or unbundling of citizenship,’ and it makes an impassioned, theoretically substantiated plea for the ‘need to decriminalize the worldwide movement of peoples, and treat each person, whatever his or her political citizenship status, in accordance with the dignity of moral personhood.’"
Political Theory

"… an important contribution to the literature on global justice, offering a promising defense of the cosmopolitan ideal of porous (if not open) borders."
Human Rights Review

"The value of Benhabib’s The Rights of Others is in fostering discourse between the theories underlying our political and ethical order and the needs of migrants… Hers is a bold statement to theorists that engagement is needed with people as yet neglected in their work… A bold contribution to a dialogue central to refugee studies."
Journal of Refugee Studies

"With this book, Benhabib has done philosophers and political theorists an important service by directing our attention to a crucial issue of global justice; her incisive analysis will no doubt set the stage for the debate that should by all rights follow."
Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy

"… a rare and remarkable combination of informed political theorizing and contemporary empirical application to real world challenges."
Dario Castiglione, University of Exeter

"… an important and compelling attempt to connect developments in political theory with efforts to extend citizen rights and protections."
Gerald Mara, Georgetown University

'… passionately argued and extremely well informed. … her insights are always provocative and penetrating.' Radical Philosophy Review

'… an important and compelling attempt to connect developments in political theory with efforts to extend citizen rights and protections.' Gerald Mara, Georgetown University


Winner, 2004 Best Book, North American Society for Social Philosophy
Ralph Bunche Award of the American Political Science Association - Winner