Bryan Caplan  

San Diego Immigration Debate

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Why not both?... Opting Out of Social Security...
On March 16, I'm debating at the University of San Diego on, "Is Immigration a Basic Human Right?" My opponent is philosopher Christopher "Kit" Wellman of Washington University.  His work on the subject is frankly puzzling, since to my mind he concedes every premise I need to make the case for open borders, with several back-up premises to spare.  But we shall see...

P.S. I may be able to run an RPG in San Diego while I'm in town.  If you're interested, email me.


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COMMENTS (8 to date)
JH writes:

Here's a question I would like to ask Wellman. He argues that states have rights to freedom of association, just like private clubs. But, if that's true, then do states have the same rights to restrict the freedom of their members as private clubs have?

Think about it this way. The Catholic Church has the right to exclude certain people (satanists, etc). But the Catholic Church also has the right to require its members to forgo abortions, birth control, sodomy, etc. If private clubs and states really are analogous in the sense that they both have rights to freedom of association, then shouldn't states have rights to restrict the freedom of their members too (not just exclude outsiders)?

If not, then Wellman owes us an explanation about why freedom of association only justifies the exclusion of outsiders, and not restrictions on the freedom of citizens. I don't think he's ever provided this explanation.

Chris Freiman and I raise this objection at greater length here.

Andy Hallman writes:

I'm reading Wellman's philosophy paper. It's not starting out very promising.

He tells you straight up that he is going to assume certain moral facts without argument, which is fine. We have to start with some assumptions, or else philosophy papers would go on endlessly.

However, his idea of a moral fact that does not require argument is pretty odd. For instance, he assumes it would be wrong for America to merge with Canada despite majorities in both countries favoring the merger.

I don't share the intuition that such a merger would be wrong, so I'm not persuaded by arguments that rest on such an intuition to arrive at their conclusion.

After all, don't most people agree it was good that West and East Germany merged and that there was no longer a wall separating them?

Conscience of a Citizen writes:

What's the point of "debating" someone who concedes your premises in advance?

Andrew_FL writes:
I don't share the intuition that such a merger would be wrong, so I'm not persuaded by arguments that rest on such an intuition to arrive at their conclusion.

After all, don't most people agree it was good that West and East Germany merged and that there was no longer a wall separating them?

Are you being serious? If you can't tell the difference between East and West Germany and America and Canada, I can see why you'd have difficulty with something so basic as it being wrong to merge America with Canada.

john hare writes:

P.S. I may be able to run an RPG in San Diego while I'm in town. If you're interested, email me.

I don't think Rocket Propelled Grenades are the answer.

David Hess writes:
If you can't tell the difference between East and West Germany and America and Canada, I can see why you'd have difficulty with something so basic as it being wrong to merge America with Canada.

If you can't tell the difference between similarity along one dimension and equality in all dimensions, I can see why you'd have difficulty with something so basic as questioning whether an assumption is so basic as to not require argument.

Hazel Meade writes:

Andrew_FL:
I'm curious as to why you think America and Canada more different than East and West Germany.

We're both English speaking.
We both used to be British colonies.
With the exception of Quebec we've got the same Anglo-Saxon cultural heritage. (And America has New Orleans for comparison).
Presumably, if we follow the analogy, both countries would have to agree to the merger. East Germany was not forcibly annexed, the East German people elected a government that ran on a platform of reunification.

So what's the tremendous difference? If Canadians elected a government that ran on a platform of merging with the US, why would it be wrong?


Ali Bertarian writes:

Open borders. What a great way to make sure that a libertarian society never occurs. Immigrants, the first generation and the fourth, overwhelmingly identify as Democrats. -- http://www.cato.org/publications/economic-development-bulletin/political-assimilation-immigrants-their-descendants

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