Qualified Migration, Development and Equal Opportunity. A Critique of the Bhagwati Tax

In the light of the old “brain drain” debate, the duty to promote poor countries’ development and the human right to emigration used to appear incompatible. In the 1970s, Jagdish Bhagwati proposed a countermeasure that would allow skilled workers to leave their poor countries, while taxing their revenues to the benefit of their home countries. This article analyzes and rejects three possible justifications of the Bhagwati tax. It concludes that the Bhagwati proposal cannot be advocated either as a compensation for what the country would have gained, had the skilled worker not left the country, or as a reciprocity obligation based on the public investment in their education, or as a way to decrease the unequal access to opportunities between migrants and those left behind. If geographical mobility goes hand in hand with social mobility, taxing migrants amounts to taxing access to opportunity, rather than the high incomes themselves.

Possibilism in Albert O. Hirschman

Albert O. Hirschman is, above all, known for his works on economic development and publications such as Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (1970), The Passions and the Interests (1977) or The Rhetoric of Reaction (1991). He is less well-known for his defense of possibilism, which represents his methodological approach to the social sciences. This article presents its origin and major characteristics.

Environmental and developmental issues: Framework for communicative action

I develop a conceptual analysis of environmental ethics, built on the compassionate motives highlighted by Hans Jonas and on the procedural norms of deliberative democracy. General development is characterized as an ethical construct, the hardcore of which consists in a conception of the person and of personal development. Personal development is construed, in the manner of Paul Ricœur, as the outcome of the communicative actions of the singular person, aiming at the “good life”. Deliberative democracy is characterized by the norms of communicative action developed by Jürgen Habermas. These norms derive action from the unanimous agreement of persons affected by its consequences, obtained in conditions of procedural impartiality allowing each person’s point of view to be voiced and heard. We develop two versions of them, adapted to the issues of urban ecology and sustainable development respectively. I show how the scope of compassionate motives impinges on the distinction between the persons-ends and the things-means of development, and how this affects the substance of communicative action. I analyze also the meaning of decision risk in this normative context.