School of Social and Political Science

Alec Ross

Job Title

PhD title: Justice in Refuge: Quotas, Markets, and a 'Fair Share'

Mobile telephone number
(+44) 738 068 0708

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Social and Political Theory, Refugee studies, Applied ethics, Human rights, marketisation, Immigration and asylum policy, Forced migration, Ethics and markets


Refugees have a unique claim for admission against capable states. However, many states are presently unwilling to fulfill this claim, resulting in an asymmetry: a few states admit disproportionately large populations, while others do little or nothing to help. To address this, there have been several attempts to develop international responsibility-sharing institutions that allow both for better protection for refugee populations and a more equitable distribution of the responsibility to host. My PhD research takes up both these concerns. In so doing, I delineate several normative principles undergirding a just duty-distribution scheme: 1) the protection of basic human rights and 2) real-world applicability. I then engage with principal questions stemming from their application onto a non-ideal world: A. ‘By what metric can a ‘fair share’ of quota allotments be distributed?’ B. 'What are the best means of distributing refuge responsibility among states?' C. ‘What does justice require of participating state in the event of non-compliance?’ On the first, I suggest that the popular method of a GDP-based distribution is normatively unsatisfactory. I do so by highlighting its failure to capture information relevant to resettlement. In its place, I posit a secondary metric. On the second, I engage with the emergent issue of marketization of refuge and posit a conditional logic for its application. On the third, I point to foreseeable effects of ‘taking up the slack’ and address the moral hazards effected by ‘slack taking.’ By comparing these effects with the aforementioned principles, I offer some reason to reform the current refuge regime.


MSc in International Political Theory, Merit. The University of Edinburgh (2016)

BA in History, Cum Laude. John Brown University (2015)

Teaching and Mentoring Experience


Political Thinkers, School of Social and Political Science, The University of Edinburgh (2018-present)

Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction to Non-Specialists, School of Social and Political Science, The University of Edinburgh (2019-present)

War and Justice, School of Social and Political Science, The University of Edinburgh (present)


Post-graduate Peer Support Mentor Scheme (2017-2018)


Political Theory Research Group (2017-present)

Refugee Research Group (2017-2018)

Citizens, Nations and Migration Network (2017-present)

Conferences and Workshops

Refugee and Minority Rights: Acceptable and Unacceptable Criteria for Accepting/Rejecting Refugees in a Non-Ideal World. At the UiT: The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø. 2018

Ethics of Refugee Policy. The Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh. 2019

Graduate Student Workshop in Political Theory of Migration, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain. 2019

Conference and Workshop Papers

Ross, A. (2018) ‘Rethinking Selectivity Among Refugees in a Non-Ideal World,’ Presented at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Organized by Globalizing Minority Rights. Funded by The Research Council of Norway

Ross, A (2019) ‘Marketization of Refuge: A Reply to the Norms Objection,’ Presented at Graduate Student Workshop in Political Theory of Migration, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain.