Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


The global refugee crisis has revealed an essential moral question regarding helping the forcibly displaced persons in protracted refugee crises: how do we determine if our community has done “enough” for a particular refugee group? Different answers have been provided to this question. This dissertation takes up this question from a normative standpoint. It develops an ethics-based burden-sharing model, that is, a “meaning-based model,” as a method to determine our political communities’ moral duties toward different refugee groups in various refugee crises. The model challenges the conventional wisdom by claiming that not every community has the same moral obligations toward every refugee group in every refugee case – some communities must do more than others in some cases. By examining communities’ levels of involvement in a given case (i.e., Outcome Responsibility) and their social connections with particular refugee groups, it is plausible to create a formula that distributes ethical duties toward a refugee group among various communities. Without employing such models, we cannot correctly judge the limits of our moral responsibilities toward refugees, and our complaints about being overburdened would lack an ethical basis. The Bosnian, Palestinian, and Syrian cases are examined to demonstrate how the meaning-based model might work in real life. When applied to these cases, the meaning-based model shows which political communities must morally do more for each refugee group and sketches their limits of help in each case.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.