Liberty, Current Events

National Partiality and the Rights of Foreigners

By Chris Freiman and Javier Hidalgo

We claim that immigration restrictions and liberalism are incompatible. One response to our argument is that states have stronger obligations to their citizens than they have to foreigners. For example, a public official in the U.S. government could argue: “It’s true that immigration restrictions limit the freedom of foreigners. But the U.S. government isn’t obligated to protect the liberties of foreigners. It is only obligated to protect the liberties of our citizens. Thus, immigration restrictions don’t interfere with liberties that we are obligated to protect.”

This argument is wrong. For one thing, it is false that immigration restrictions only interfere with the liberty of foreigners. In practice, immigration restrictions interfere with the freedom of citizens too. States fine and arrest citizens for hiring unauthorized migrants, imprison citizens for participating in “fake” marriages with foreigners (in contrast, the only reason that citizens get married is surely pure romantic love), and forbid citizens from renting to unauthorized migrants. So, even if we only care about the freedom of citizens, there is still a strong objection to immigration restrictions.

Anyway, we deny that governments lack strong obligations to foreigners. Immigration restrictions are coercive. We have weighty obligations to refrain from coercing other people, including foreigners.

Here is a case to illustrate. Imagine that Sally and Robin are walking down a neighborhood street. One resident of this neighborhood, George, threatens to assault and kidnap Sally and Robin if they don’t immediately turn back. Now, imagine that Robin is a U.S. citizen, while Sally is Canadian. Does George have a weaker obligation to avoid coercing Sally in comparison with Robin? After all, George and Robin are compatriots, while Sally is a foreigner. Yet it seems equally wrong for George to coerce Sally and Robin. This same argument applies to government officials. Suppose that George is a police officer. We again think it is still just as wrong for George to threaten Sally as it is for him to coerce Robin, even though George is an official in the U.S. government.

Maybe you think that the U.S. government is justified in coercively restricting would-be immigrants in order to fulfill its positive obligations to its citizens. Take a standard worry: by driving up the supply of labor, immigrants will decrease the wages of some American workers. So, the argument goes, the state ought to forcibly prevent immigrants from entering the U.S. labor market to ensure that American wages don’t drop.

In reply, consider a case adapted from one of Michael Huemer’s. Suppose your daughter is one of two finalists for a job. You know that the other finalist is willing to work for less than your daughter. On the day of the other finalist’s interview, you decide to physically prevent him from getting to the interview to ensure that your daughter gets the job at a sufficiently high salary. Clearly, your use of coercion against your daughter’s competitor is not justified even though you have special obligations to look out for our daughter’s welfare. Similarly, a state’s use of coercion against would-be immigrants is not justified even if states have special obligations to their own citizens. The general point is that the state’s negative duty to not coerce foreigners typically outweighs its positive duty to benefit citizens.

Other examples abound. Suppose that a TSA agent at LaGuardia airport notices that there is only one Cinnabon left and that a Greek tourist is ahead of a native New Yorker in the line. So the TSA agent forcibly prevents the Greek tourist from buying the Cinnabon in order to save it for the hungry American. Or, suppose the TSA agent forcibly prevents the Greek tourist from taking the last spot in the airport chapel in order to keep it open for the same native New Yorker. In both cases, the agent is doing something wrong.

So, it is false that governments have relatively weak obligations to respect the liberty of foreigners and, even if they did, this wouldn’t vindicate immigration restrictions. This is more evidence that liberalism and immigration restrictions are inconsistent.

  • Anonymous

    So detached from reality. If Europe or US opened boarders a billion people would come. Maybe the world would be a better place, but the US and Europe would not be for their current citizens. You would, of course, be able to pay for the libertarian paradise legal is your local gated community, but the rest of us live in the real world.

    • SO DUMB

      Dumb. Why don’t Texans invade New York, or people living in any US state invade any other US state that is richer or has better living conditions?

      • Hollis Butts

        The difference between Texas and NY is slight compared with the difference between Bangladesh and Texas. Also, many Texans would dispute that NY living conditions are better.

  • Jeff R.

    Suppose that there were whole groups of people for whom liberalism was an alien concept who nonetheless found its fruits attractive. Suppose that these people vastly outnumbered those for whom liberalism was an indigenous part of their culture. Suppose that these people then immigrated en masse to parts of the world were liberalism was the predominant ethos. Suppose that this made assimilation into the formerly dominant liberal modus vivendi unnecessary or even impossible.

    • King Goat

      Is this about the Irish again?

      • Theresa Klein

        I think he’s referring to Mexicans. Everyone knows they hate freedom.

        • Les Kyle Nearhood

          your snark does nothing to further your argument. We see real world examples of that happening right before our very eyes, so it isn’t some mistaken assumption of the distant past. We can see chaos, lawbreaking, and vast problems with social welfare taking place in Europe right now.

          • Theresa Klein

            We’re not talking about Europe. We’re talking about America. And in America, most of our immigration is from Hispanic, largely Roman-Catholic peoples who have much less trouble assimilating. We share a common religious and cultural heritage with Hispanics that we don’t share with Arab Muslims. I’m tired of people using Muslims in Europe as an argument against Hispanic immigration to America.

  • Ulysses

    How about another example?

    Suppose Robin is a member of a housing co-op, which limits the use of the building it collectively owns (along with its substantial amenities) to residents and their guests. Presumably, such a policy is permissible. Sally, who isn’t a member, walks in uninvited and starts using the last available washing machine, which Robin was planning on using. Robin asks her to leave but Sally refuses; after that, Robin calls security, who coercively eject her. Presumably, this is permissible too.

    I suspect that opponents of unrestricted immigration on both the left and the right think the issue is more closely analogous to the co-op example than either the neighborhood or job candidate examples. Maybe it isn’t. However, I don’t think that you’ve shown that it isn’t. (Moreover, I suspect that in order to show that it isn’t, you would need to make a number of substantial assumptions, assumptions which libertarians may be likely to accept but other liberals probably wouldn’t.)

    • King Goat

      This argument was addressed in an earlier entry in these authors’ series:

      http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/05/immigration-and-self-determination/

      • Lacunaria

        Freiman employs an overgeneralization fallacy there. Compromising on entrance does not entail compromising on all other issues. And there are good, pragmatic reasons to compromise on entrance.

        • King Goat

          Your theory is based on the importance of honoring agreements, but as they point out if a group thinks there are good, pragmatic reasons to restrict my right to invite someone to enter and associate with me and we should honor those restrictions because we should honor the agreement, then there’s a host of other liberties that the same group might ‘agree’ upon needing restricting.

          • Lacunaria

            So, every agreement is a slippery slope to oppression? Is not forming agreements really an option?

            We should be so blessed if all the issues Freiman cites had the same degree of consent as mutual defense.

          • King Goat

            No, it’s just that agreements can include morally indefensible behavior which isn’t made defensible because it’s the subject of an agreement. A group making a ‘mutual defense agreement’ that included regular violent raids on neighboring groups would be morally indefensible even if it could be shown that the activities worked to the advantage of the group as a whole.

          • Lacunaria

            I agree with your example, but it is not analogous, for reasons I explain here.

            If Freiman wants to argue that there is a legitimate moral dilemma over where to draw the line over immigration, I would be sympathetic, but he is instead asserting that there is no line and he justifies that by comparing apples and oranges.

            The natural rights argument against violent raids is categorically different than against not inviting someone to your community.

            Indeed, if the immigrant invited causes any violence, then the two cases do become more analogous but opposite your intended point — the inviter opened the door to a violent raid.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            The second para is exactly right. And the way to resolve the conflict is to allow in all who generally share our values. This implies substantially more open borders, but that’s not what Freiman is advocating.

          • King Goat

            “The natural rights argument against violent raids is categorically different than against not inviting someone to your community.”

            It’s not about ‘invitations,’ but about the use of force to turn away peaceable potential entrants, so it doesn’t seem categorically different at all.

          • Lacunaria

            Are you really arguing that an immigrant has a right to enter a community even if no one in the community wants him there?

            Is there some natural right to use roads built and maintained by other people for their own purposes?

            You are only looking at half of a moral equation and drawing conclusions. Invitations are fundamental to the right of movement.

          • King Goat

            This is how it usually is: if you live in a neighborhood near the one I live in, of course I have a right to enter that neighborhood as long as I’m peaceable. In my neighborhood Jehovah Witnesses come by to share religious ideas I find worth listening , UPS men come by to deliver goods I’ve ordered from them and a host of people not from my neighborhood enter my community all the time. Are you saying my neighbors should be able to prevent that, because maybe they think Jehovah Witnesses are potential nuisances or that UPS drivers are potential dangers? And if they can prevent that, then can’t they prevent me from going door to door in my own neighborhood to share religious ideas, or to ask if people want to buy wares I might have for sale, because they feel they’re nuisances and dangers to our community? Your envisioning a kind of collectively owned property which the collective owners can control to prevent peaceable entrants-kind of like a HOA for a gated community. But of course such arrangements also regularly restrict all kinds of freedoms, they’re not good models for liberty minded folk.

          • Theresa Klein

            @King Goat, to make a more accurate analogy, he’s saying the can prevent that, despite having no prior agreement from you that they have a right to do so. It you voluntarily join an HOA with those rules, that’s one thing, but in real life there is no national HOA to which we all belong.

          • Lacunaria

            That’s how it usually is within a state, not between states. Like Freiman, you are reducing your examples to cases where arrangements on defense, justice, what “public” means, etc. already exist and then you ignore any dependence upon those arrangements in your universal extrapolation.

            Are you saying my neighbors should be able to prevent that, because maybe they think Jehovah Witnesses are potential nuisances or that UPS drivers are potential dangers?

            What are your premises? Are there existing arrangements on how that should be handled in your neighborhood?

            Absent any arrangements, no, they should not prevent Jehovah’s Witnesses from coming onto your property if you universally invited everyone to solicit you in person (NB: such an invitation is still required). They need not even prevent a certifiably dangerous UPS driver from going onto your property.

            Of course, if you do invite dangerous people onto your property and they cause trouble for your neighbors, then that might motivate your neighbors to agree to defend against you and your invitees and restrict immigration into their community. Conflicts happen.

            Your envisioning a kind of collectively owned property which the collective owners can control to prevent peaceable entrants-kind of like a HOA for a gated community.

            Sure, a sort of collective ownership of borders regarding entrance is an inherent part of mutual defense, but that does not imply collective ownership of everything where all matters must be subject to democratic vote.

            If you want mutual defense, as 99+% of people do, then you will necessarily have to compromise on immigration. Again, this is a compromise on who you may invite since the rest of us become obligated to defend him and defend against him inside. It is not a compromise on the rights of that third party.

            But of course such arrangements also regularly restrict all kinds of freedoms, they’re not good models for liberty minded folk.

            It’s a flawed model of liberty that ignores that we have to actually defend our liberties.

          • King Goat

            “a sort of collective ownership of borders regarding entrance is an inherent part of mutual defense, but that does not imply collective ownership of everything where all matters must be subject to democratic vote.”

            Why? If the nation is owned collectively by the citizens then exclusion isn’t the only thing ‘the owners’ can agree to do, they can also agree on all kinds of restrictions on what’s done on ‘their’ property. A homeowner’s association is not only within its rights to turn people away at the community border, they can also say ‘no house shall display a political yard sign’ or ‘all homeowners shall pay this required fee for the community fall festival’ etc.

            As to the rest of it, I’m honestly not sure what you’re talking about. An arrangement between me and you can’t make violating Theresa’s rights OK.

          • Lacunaria

            Why? If the nation is owned collectively by the citizens then exclusion isn’t the only thing ‘the owners’ can agree to do, they can also agree on all kinds of restrictions on what’s done on ‘their’ property.

            Entrance across the borders is owned collectively, if you want to put it that way. Agreeing to a democratic vote on one topic does not entail democratic votes on all topics.

            A homeowner’s association is not only within its rights to turn people away at the community border, they can also say ‘no house shall display a political yard sign’ or ‘all homeowners shall pay this required fee for the community fall festival’ etc.

            Quite possibly, but that depends upon the HOA. The point is that an HOA has a purpose and it has limits. Mutual defense has a different purpose but it also has limits.

            The question is, how do you form a realistic mutual defense agreement without compromising on what qualifies as external threats?

            As to the rest of it, I’m honestly not sure what you’re talking about. An arrangement between me and you can’t make violating Theresa’s rights OK.

            We would not be violating Theresa’s rights. You and I would only be agreeing not to invite Theresa. Theresa has no natural right to our property or the property we built and share absent an invitation.

          • King Goat

            “Entrance across the borders is owned collectively, if you want to put it that way. ”

            What does that mean? ‘We’ own the borders, but ‘we’ don’t own the territory within them?

            “Agreeing to a democratic vote on one topic does not entail democratic votes on all topics.”

            And what puts some topics in the latter category but this one in the former?

            “without compromising on what qualifies as external threats?”

            I honestly don’t know what you mean here. Are you saying if we’re going to join others in an arrangement to defend one another we will have to defer at times to what a majority of the others think is a threat or not? As an empirical matter maybe that’s the case, but it seems to beg the question debated: should peaceable potential entrants be seen or treated as an external threat?

            “Theresa has no natural right to our property or the property we built and share absent an invitation.”

            See, there’s that collective ownership of property thing (not just borders) again. If you are going to use the analogy of collective property ownership in order to invoke the exclusionary rights in property ownership it seems to me you have to live with the rest of the analogy, that is that the collective owners of property can agree to all kinds of other restrictions on what goes on on the property, restrictions that can apply to other co-owners as well. That’s basic communitarianism, not libertarianism or liberalism.

          • Lacunaria

            “Entrance across the borders is owned collectively, if you want to put it that way.”

            What does that mean? ‘We’ own the borders, but ‘we’ don’t own the territory within them?

            Yes. Bear in mind that “collective ownership” is simply an agreement that apportions authority. If the term sounds confusing as applied to borders, then just defer to the authority apportioned.

            i.e. Just because we agree to compromise on entrance for mutual defense does not mean that we must compromise on any liberties inside. In fact, it is because our borders limit our external risk that we can better protect liberty inside.

            We don’t have to potentially deal with the free immigration of all the gangs in the world; we just have to deal with the presence of those we have already agreed to.

            By contrast, your moral construction of immigration requires that every community must accept all of the dangers of the world that have not been proven as criminal through due process. It’s even incumbent upon them to adjudicate the cases of everyone in the world to determine that!

            And what puts some topics in the latter category but this one in the former?

            Your consent to it. I am asserting that you will agree to mutual defense. And if you don’t, then no one has any obligation to defend you when someone does violate your rights. If you want to live that way, then you should be permitted to do so.

            Are you saying if we’re going to join others in an arrangement to defend one another we will have to defer at times to what a majority of the others think is a threat or not?

            Basically, yes. That’s a key point.

            As an empirical matter maybe that’s the case, but it seems to beg the question debated: should peaceable potential entrants be seen or treated as an external threat?

            Ironically, it is you who is begging the question by assuming that they are “peaceable” and then asking if they should be seen as a “threat”. By definition, if they are peaceable then they are not a threat! If we could actually determine that people are “peaceable”, then we wouldn’t need our systems of mutual defense and justice in the first place.

            So, I think your underlying question is, what is the most moral agreement we can make regarding immigrants? That’s an important question and I would agree that our current system is not the most moral — it should be more open for everyone’s long-term good, but the right to make that decision lies with the community itself for their mutual defense, because no one has a natural right to enter without an invitation.

            And if people come to substantially disagree over mutual defense, then they must weigh the benefits of exiting against the costs, including their weaker defensive abilities when separated.

            “Theresa has no natural right to our property or the property we built and share absent an invitation.”

            See, there’s that collective ownership of property thing (not just borders) again.

            Fair enough, I was overly broad compared to just borders, but, for example, there is always some agreement regarding roads. Even your ideal of universal access to roads requires an agreement amongst the community to jointly select, build, and maintain the roads and then defend universal access for everyone in the world. There is no natural right to the joint labor or property of other people — usage must be determined by agreement.

            But I don’t have to live with the morality of all of your analogies outside of mutual defense because I’m not asserting what your other internal agreements will be. All I am asserting is that you will realistically agree to mutual defense which requires compromising on invitations.

            Is your answer to that this collective ownership thing, that it’s no different than a HOA telling non-members they can’t come in? If so, it just leads to the points I’ve made above.

            Yes, it is similar to an HOA in the sense that an invitation is required, but mutual defense has a narrower scope than an HOA — it solely pertains to entrance at the borders.

          • King Goat

            “Just because we agree to compromise on entrance for mutual defense does not mean that we must compromise on any liberties inside”

            You seem to be confusing some things here. There’s what we might agree to in our arrangements, and then there’s the scope or right of what we can agree on (in a moral sense). We might agree to keep immigrants out (your ‘compromise on entrance’), but we might not (for much of its history the US did not, for example). And we might, after agreeing to keep immigrants out, then agree to maximum liberty for those within the borders. But, the authority supporting the compromise on entrance, as you put it, logically supports compromises on internal liberties, if that’s the arrangement the arrangers want.

            I’m not begging the question when I refer to peaceable entrants, I’m distinguishing them from non-peaceable ones. It’s not a prediction, it’s a description. Using force against someone who has done no aggressive act is wrong, and using force against someone who had done no aggressive act but which you predict might is wrong (except perhaps in cases of quite high imminence and reasonable belief). I’m not assuming a peaceable entrant, I’m describing one: if, and as long as, any entrant is peaceable, then it’s usually wrong to use force against them (these are the ‘negative obligations’ we’re born with discussed elsewhere with you).

            When would it be OK to use force against someone who is just walking around, asking others if they will associate with them in business and such? Well, it might be if they are trespassing. This is where your idea keeps coming back to: we can expel the otherwise peaceable entrant because they’re trespassing past our collective borders. But again, this is just a collective ownership argument, and you inherit all the baggage of such an argument. And that’s the entire point of what Chris has been saying: if what justifies the use of force against an otherwise peaceable person is that they are in some sense ‘trespassing’ then what follows is that exclusion is not the only usual right of owners of (or ‘shared authority over) property: they also have the power to restrict all kinds of actions *within* the property as well. This cedes any other restrictions on liberty the arrangers or co-owners might come to want. At times you seem to acknowledge this, at other times you seem to just say ‘well, we don’t have to make such arrangements, maybe internally we’ll decide to be all free and stuff.’ We might decide that (and of course we might decide to have quite open borders too), but liberals and libertarians are looking for a political philosophy to protect us from a majority of the arrangers/owners deciding to restrict liberty in entrance and within. You’re in the land of ‘we can restrict liberty all over the place, but let’s decide to just do it at the border and stop’, others want to be in the ‘we can’t restrict liberty all over the place, and that includes the border.’

          • Lacunaria

            But, the authority supporting the compromise on entrance, as you put it, logically supports compromises on internal liberties, if that’s the arrangement the arrangers want.

            Not just arrangers, agree-ers. I’m saying that people will voluntarily consent to mutual defense. If they don’t then they should separate. Mutual defense is a basic first step in effectively defending your natural rights.

            It’s not a prediction, it’s a description.

            Even as a description, it’s just a guess. We don’t know their history. We don’t know if they have committed acts which would be illegal in the US, like beating their wives or building explosives to attack the US. It’s silly to assume otherwise in your premise.

            And even if we somehow do have evidence, you would assert that we must give them due process in order to exclude them. The US has a moral responsibility to adjudicate every foreigner, right?

            Using force against someone who has done no aggressive act is wrong

            As you should know well by now, I’m only advocating that people will overwhelmingly voluntarily compromise on invitation. I’m not advocating using force against someone who has a right to enter. Absent an invitation, the immigrant is the aggressor.

            I am in the land of realistic strategies to maximize consent and protect our negative rights.

            You are in the land of, “I don’t care if the people I invite tend to degrade the rule of law and increase violations against my neighbors. They must bear that burden. I will not compromise regarding who I can invite — and I invite everyone unless you can prove that they are a criminal at the time of entry.”

            That is a fantasy land, because your neighbors overwhelmingly care, and they will not accept that burdensome obligation to you and the world. Instead, they will form voluntary agreements against you and compromise on invitation for mutual defense, and you will eventually be violated or gobbled up by a state due to your obstinacy and left with the satisfaction that whatever rights of yours they violate, it was unjust and you never compromised for mutual defense.

          • King Goat

            Again, you say people will voluntarily consent to mutual defense. In what sense do you mean this? They will as a matter of empirical prediction? They will as a matter of rationality (that is what rational contractors would do)?

            And why would they limit the idea of ‘mutual defense’ to threats outside the contractors? I don’t want my co-contractors to violate what I think are my rights. I can’t think of any actual ‘social contract’ or government that didn’t police internal matters as well external threats. So, if you find the need to come together for mutual defense OK’s what goes on at the border, how can you turn around and say it doesn’t necessarily within them?

            “it’s just a guess”

            No, because it’s not about or based on a past or future we cannot see. That’s the point: we don’t use force on someone because of what we guess they might do, only on what we know them to have done or are doing. We don’t go ‘minority report’ on anyone, citizen or entrant.

            “Absent an invitation, the immigrant is the aggressor.”

            See, we’ve gone round and round on this, but I’m right in that the basis of your argument *is* that the immigrant can be seen as an aggressor because they’re invading some kind of collective property right (because otherwise what they’re doing-walking around seeking associations-is not usually thought of as aggressive, but could be if one is trespassing). But now you’ve got all the problems, for a liberal or libertarian, of this idea of collective property plopped directly into your lap. People that own property can control not only entrance, but what goes on inside the property too-which opens the way for a host of illiberal policies. Ironically, in coming up with a philosophy that allows you to morally keep potentially illiberal immigrants out you’ve let into that philosophy the basis for most every illiberal internal restriction on liberty one can imagine! And that’s been Chris’ point all along.

          • Lacunaria

            Again, you say people will voluntarily consent to mutual defense. In what sense do you mean this? They will as a matter of empirical prediction? They will as a matter of rationality (that is what rational contractors would do)?

            Yes, people rationally want to minimize their risk and their positive obligations, which plays out both historically and predictively in mutual defense. And it is moral for them to do so.

            How do you justify your demand that your neighbors must accept both greater risk and greater positive obligations against their own self-interest?

            So, if you find the need to come together for mutual defense OK’s what goes on at the border, how can you turn around and say it doesn’t necessarily within them?

            We’ll compromise on internal matters, too, but those are separate agreements, under moderately less pressure. e.g. if half the US wants free speech and the other half doesn’t, then they can geographically split within the US and still retain federal mutual defense against the outside.

            But you are right that you have a dilemma if 99% will only defend your rights if you agree to their dress code. How would you practically handle such a dilemma? Is their offer inherently unjust? Would you rather fend for yourself?

            “it’s just a guess”

            No, because it’s not about or based on a past or future we cannot see.

            What are you talking about? If you don’t look to the past, then on what basis are you calling someone “peaceable”?

            Haha, do you mean that they are not presently attacking the border agent? 🙂

            That’s the point: we don’t use force on someone because of what we guess they might do, only on what we know them to have done or are doing. We don’t go ‘minority report’ on anyone, citizen or entrant.

            Again, not inviting is not force, and you are simply asserting your moral position that a citizen and an entrant must be treated equally. And I would agree if there were no significant and rational motivation for mutual defense and no distinct meaning of “citizen”, but in light of those, you need greater justification.

            “Absent an invitation, the immigrant is the aggressor.”

            See, we’ve gone round and round on this, but I’m right in that the basis of your argument *is* that the immigrant can be seen as an aggressor because they’re invading some kind of collective property right (because otherwise what they’re doing-walking around seeking associations-is not usually thought of as aggressive, but could be if one is trespassing).

            You are extrapolating from what is “usual” within a mutual defense agreement and then ignoring the relevance of mutual defense to the validity of your conclusions.

            If you don’t want mutual defense, fine, but there are practical consequences to that option. Look to your assumptions.

            But now you’ve got all the problems, for a liberal or libertarian, of this idea of collective property plopped directly into your lap. People that own property can control not only entrance, but what goes on inside the property too-which opens the way for a host of illiberal policies.

            If that is the way you are defining “collective property”, then that term is not applicable to my argument.

            I am asserting that, in practice, people will compromise on external threats, perhaps even granting authority to the majority of the nation to evaluate external threats.

            Yes, they must come up with other agreements inside regarding roads that they agree to build together, but that is separable from mutual defense. Roads do not need to be subject to the same national majority as mutual defense. Indeed, if people do not want to compromise, then they can separate within the US.

            Let’s say that you, me, and Theresa agree to build something together. Are there conditions to our building it? How do we apportion access? Is it a time share? Can our agreement change by majority rules or does it require unanimous consent? All of these possibilities are separate from mutual defense.

            So, please explain how such an agreement of joint effort necessarily entails an absolute authoritarian rule by a national majority, just because that national majority agrees on mutual defense from external threats.

            Even more, I would like you to explain how everyone in the world has a right to use what we built.

          • King Goat

            “Yes, people rationally want to minimize their risk”

            You’re not getting what I’m saying, there’s an empirical description that people form mutual defense agreements (states) involving compromises and there are philosophical social contract theories that justify these morally by saying the agreements are what rational contractors would agree with.

            “How do you justify your demand that your neighbors must accept both greater risk and greater positive obligations against their own self-interest?”

            The same way I justify my demand that they must accept what some of them may see as greater risk and greater positive obligations against their own self-interest when it comes to my possession of a firearm, my speech that they see as hateful (or obscene, or disloyal, etc). All those things are argued by those who want to restrict them to be things that should be restricted because they lead to “greater risk and greater positive obligations against their own self-interest?”

            “do you mean that they are not presently attacking the border agent?”

            Well, yes. I’m fine with using the past as some predictor of future risk, but I skew towards present non-risk to future projections of risk. In our anglo-american system a staple is we don’t use governmental force against someone until they act badly.

            “not inviting is not force”

            No, using force to prevent someone from walking across the border is force. That might be justified, *if* he’s doing something like trespassing, but as I’ve said if you’re working under that premise then the ‘collective owners’ can restrict a heck of a lot more than just who comes and goes….

            “they must come up with other agreements inside regarding roads that they agree to build together, but that is separable from mutual defense”

            This is, with all due respect, a bit silly to me. The same authority that gives us the right to treat people peaceably walking over our border with force, that is that they are ‘trespassing’ in some sense, is the same authority that gives the ‘co-owners’ of the ‘property’ the power to decide about roads, speech, gun possession and everything else within the property.

            If me, you and Theresa build a structure, then we can keep people out of it, yes indeed, even if they just want to come and do peaceable things. But that’s not all we’d be able to do. If we’ve agreed that we all have an equal say in ownership then if you and Theresa say there’s to be no smoking in the structure, then you can’t smoke. If we say there’ll be no nudey magazines in the structure or no foods high in trans-fat, then you can’t have them there either.

            See? When you invoke the authority of ‘collective property’ you don’t just get the right to exclude people from it, you get all the other baggage of property rights, and that opens up collective property to all kinds of illiberal arrangements. Which is what liberals and libertarians would like to avoid!

          • Lacunaria

            There’s more empirical support for mutual defense agreements than just states, and I’m not arguing that people have to agree. If they don’t want to compromise then they should simply be on their own in defending their rights. That is a moral outcome.

            Absent a state, would you agree to compromise on mutual defense? If not, what do you think the long-term consequences of that decision would be?

            The same way I justify my demand that they must accept what some of them may see as greater risk and greater positive obligations against their own self-interest when it comes to my possession of a firearm, my speech that they see as hateful (or obscene, or disloyal, etc).

            The “same way”? And what way is that?

            Do you think it would be immoral for people to agree to exclude guns?

            “do you mean that they are not presently attacking the border agent?”

            Well, yes. I’m fine with using the past as some predictor of future risk, but I skew towards present non-risk to future projections of risk.

            What would be the point of such a predictor if you cannot block him from entry?

            Your argument seems to be that we are somehow obligated to let past thieves and murderers inside, because there couldn’t possibly be agreement against such a thing, and we simply must bear the burden of monitoring them.

            If me, you and Theresa build a structure, then we can keep people out of it, yes indeed, even if they just want to come and do peaceable things. But that’s not all we’d be able to do. If we’ve agreed that we all have an equal say in ownership then if you and Theresa say there’s to be no smoking in the structure, then you can’t smoke. If we say there’ll be no nudey magazines in the structure or no foods high in trans-fat, then you can’t have them there either.

            Yes, that is one possible scenario “if we’ve agreed” to usage by democratic majority vote.

            Another scenario is that I don’t participate in building that structure because I don’t want to be subject to that wide-ranging agreement.

            And guess what? I can be far more picky in those agreements when my right to life and property are better secured! That’s the key difference between mutual defense and all the ancillary restrictions that you and Chris propose.

            I’d still like you to explain how a joint effort and resources of a small group becomes an entitlement of everyone in the world. It seems to be some sort of miracle of your conception of the state as God.

          • King Goat

            One thing you seem to do is to analytically separate something that empirically is usually intertwined: that is when people make ‘mutual defense agreements’ (which in today’s world really just means states) they do not just come to a decision about border enforcement for protection of themselves and their rights but they also do so for internal rules (see the US Constitution for example). You seem to be saying ‘well, you’re going to need defense from external threats, and that entails compromise on who gets to come in, and the agreement you make on this then justifies using force to turn away non-partys to the agreement who are not, at the time that force will be used, aggressing against anyone; but when it comes to internal rules let’s just not make any liberty compromising ones!’ That’s not realistic empirically (no state does that, in fact there’s more evidence of the opposite-the early US had internal rules but no exclusion of immigrants) or theoretically-because the agreement for dealing with external threats is justified by the same thing in dealing with internal threats.

            You walked away from your own example: me, you and Theresa building the structure. The structure was supposed to be analogous to your mutual defense agreement wasn’t it, or our state which involves both mutual defense and infrastructure? Well, like I said, what would justify using force to exclude peaceable people from it is that we own it and they in essence are trespassing without invitation. But of course owners can not only exclude people, they can control what goes on on and in the property too, right? You can’t escape this by saying ‘well, maybe on internal matters we’ll make really liberty respecting agreements!’ Because maybe we won’t-my and Chris’ point is that the authority you’ve conceded on the border can also be invoked to justify all kinds of internal liberty restricting proposals. And I can just as easily say ‘when it comes to borders maybe we’ll make a very open one as our agreement, as the US did’ or more importantly that that is the agreement that we *should* or *ought* to make morally).

          • Lacunaria

            Yes, I am separating issues that are in many cases merged, but I consider all the merging to be largely unnecessary and less moral due to reducing consent. We should break apart government, not enshrine a single, monolithic, authoritarian compromise for which no one is responsible.

            The US Constitution is a great example because the federal government was originally limited to issues like mutual defense and interstate commerce. It was to be a federation of states, not the monolithic, authoritarian state it has largely become. Yes, people want internal rules, too, but they are and have been separable by step-wise localization.

            The EU is another example, with the Schengen agreement building upon the individual state’s mutual defense to ease internal borders in exchange for compromises at encompassing borders.

            You seem to be saying ‘well, you’re going to need defense from external threats, and that entails compromise on who gets to come in, and the agreement you make on this then justifies using force to turn away non-partys to the agreement who are not, at the time that force will be used, aggressing against anyone;

            Almost — they are aggressing if they have no legitimate invitation.

            but when it comes to internal rules let’s just not make any liberty compromising ones!’

            Yes, and that is realistic because once we secure basic liberties like life and property, then that relieves us from much of the pressure to compromise on other liberties, like speech.

            People still can and should separate over the other liberties, but there is not the same exigency or necessity to compromise as for mutual defense.

            That’s not realistic empirically (no state does that, in fact there’s more evidence of the opposite-the early US had internal rules but no exclusion of immigrants) or theoretically-because the agreement for dealing with external threats is justified by the same thing in dealing with internal threats.

            You are switching from the authority to restrict immigration to the practical ability or enactment of immigration restrictions.

            You can claim to have all the freedom you want until conflicts arise. The real question is, does any modern state defend a right of universal invitation and entry? Have historical states or tribes? If so, how long has that lasted?

            I actually view your position as lacking support, both empirically and in construction. It’s a glaringly odd discontinuity if everyone in the world is inherently entitled to certain things that you and I build together, and I’ve been trying to get you to explain it. There’s some kind of magical leap in your model when a community or tribe becomes a state.

            By contrast, I’m arguing for moral continuity as agreements scale. My construction acknowledges that reality necessitates compromise and to that end, I maximize consent, rather than delegating that compromise to a monolithic, authoritarian state that must be imposed upon everyone.

            The structure was supposed to be analogous to your mutual defense agreement wasn’t it, or our state which involves both mutual defense and infrastructure?

            I intended it to be an agreement on infrastructure separate from mutual defense.

            Because maybe we won’t-my and Chris’ point is that the authority you’ve conceded on the border can also be invoked to justify all kinds of internal liberty restricting proposals.

            No, that is wrong. The specific authority conceded for mutual defense does not extend to any other proposals. They are separate.

            Now, you can argue that we might make bad agreements inside, but:

            (1) Limiting our exposure to risk from and positive obligations to the world is not a bad agreement, so you are comparing a good agreement to a bad one.

            (2) When our basic rights to life and property are secured, the easier it will be to avoid compromising on our other liberties.

            (3) Morally, there should be a reasonable way to exit our agreements.

            And I can just as easily say ‘when it comes to borders maybe we’ll make a very open one as our agreement, as the US did’ or more importantly that that is the agreement that we *should* or *ought* to make morally).

            Yes, and I might even agree with “very open”, but not the construction that you have argued. I don’t believe the US ever established the right of universal invitation and entry, and I don’t even see how accepting that degree of risk and positive obligations of justice is in people’s self-interest.

          • King Goat

            “they are aggressing if they have no legitimate invitation.”

            Exactly! What makes their otherwise non-aggressive seeming actions actually aggressive is that they are in essences trespassing. Your view always comes back to what I’ve said it is: a collective property basis. But when people own property collectively they have not only the right to exclude others they have the right to make rules about what goes on inside the property. You say ‘hey, those are separate!’ They’re separate decisions, yes of course, but the authority for making them lies in the same place: that ‘we’ own or control this property. Because we own or control it we can exclude non-invitees, but because we own or control it we can also set up the rules for conduct within it. Sure, we might, after agreeing to exclude non-invitees, make very few internal rules. But we don’t have to: now that we’re operating on a ‘collective property basis’ allowing us to exclude others, we can also now invoke all the other possible rights of property ownership, the right to control behavior on the property.

            Take your example, which I thank you for clarifying is about infrastructure. The three of us build a road. As you say, to get you two to help me build the road I might have to agree with you that we’ll decide by equal vote who other than us gets to use the road. If we decide not to invite Humperdink, then he’s trespassing if he comes onto it, and we’re justified in excluding him. After all, the road is ‘ours.’ But wait! Theresa and I also say ‘look, we think SUVs are too dangerous to be on the road, so none of them’ If you want the road, you’ll have to agree to that too. And you and Theresa say, ‘bumper stickers annoy us, so no vehicles on the road with them!’ If I want the road I’ll have to agree to not use any bumper stickers….

            I hope you see my analogies are to speech laws and gun laws. Did you see how they followed the exact form of yours for restricting immigration? That’s been my and Chris’ point all along. The rationale, the authority, for limiting liberties applied to restricting immigration is also that for restricting a host of other liberties.

          • Lacunaria

            Sorry, I went on vacation and thought I posted this before I left, but apparently I didn’t. No worries if you don’t want to continue the discussion.

            “they are aggressing if they have no legitimate invitation.”

            Exactly! What makes their otherwise non-aggressive seeming actions actually aggressive is that they are in essences trespassing. Your view always comes back to what I’ve said it is: a collective property basis.

            Let’s take this step by step and consider the most simple case to see exactly where we diverge:

            You and I are neighbors: I claim ownership of my land and you claim ownership of your land. We make an agreement to defend our properties together against external threats, and we thereby compromise on what qualifies as an external threat.

            Where is the collective property? Is every agreement “collective property” to you?

            We have only agreed that I will not invite threats to you onto my land and you will not invite threats to me onto your land — we will defend against those threats together. This is a moral, consensual agreement. I have not granted you any other authority over me or my property.

            Sure, we might, after agreeing to exclude non-invitees, make very few internal rules. But we don’t have to: now that we’re operating on a ‘collective property basis’ allowing us to exclude others, we can also now invoke all the other possible rights of property ownership, the right to control behavior on the property.

            Yes, that is a possibility, but not an entailment, which means that it is not valid to say that our mutual defense agreement entails any other agreements or majority rule.

            What you actually seem to be arguing against is consensual agreements.

            All you seem to be objecting to is that the freedom of contract entails that you could make bad agreements. And that is true! It is also not immoral.

            Now, I also believe that there should be a reasonable right of exit, but that doesn’t mean that the agreements we form have no moral weight, or that certain agreements inherently grant entitlement to the entire world (please explain that position to me!).

            So, I am arguing for “freedom of contract” and it’s misleading to call that “collective property” because the latter connotes a specific agreement and authority, often by equal, democratic vote. And under that constraint, it would be true that we’d have to compromise on borders as well as all internal matters.

            Take your example, which I thank you for clarifying is about infrastructure. The three of us build a road. As you say, to get you two to help me build the road I might have to agree with you that we’ll decide by equal vote who other than us gets to use the road. If we decide not to invite Humperdink, then he’s trespassing if he comes onto it, and we’re justified in excluding him. After all, the road is ‘ours.’ But wait! Theresa and I also say ‘look, we think SUVs are too dangerous to be on the road, so none of them’ If you want the road, you’ll have to agree to that too. And you and Theresa say, ‘bumper stickers annoy us, so no vehicles on the road with them!’ If I want the road I’ll have to agree to not use any bumper stickers….

            If we all agree to a simple majority rule for the road, then yes. If I don’t like that possibility, then I shouldn’t agree to build and maintain the road with you.

            And if I don’t agree, then you and Theresa might just build it on your own properties or unclaimed land. And if I want to use it, then I’ll have to negotiate permission.

            What I have been asking you to answer is: by what moral principle are you justifying that not only I but the entire world is entitled to use the road that you and Theresa built?

            I hope you see my analogies are to speech laws and gun laws. Did you see how they followed the exact form of yours for restricting immigration?

            I do see the similarity that they all involve the freedom of contract, meaning that they all exist as possibilities. But I also see many differences in pressures, self-interest, etc. which make it an entirely different proposition whether people will agree on free speech vs. whether they will agree to defend each other against the Mongols or Nazis or ISIS-affiliated immigrants.

          • Theresa Klein

            Are you really arguing that an immigrant has a right to enter a community even if no one in the community wants him there?

            If nobody in the community wants him there, he will be unable to find employment, rent an apartment, or transact business with anyone.

          • Lacunaria

            Yes, and if there is also no invitation for him to use roads, parks, fountains, etc. built and maintained by the community for their own use, then what right does he have to use them?

            The right of movement is fundamentally dependent upon invitation in these cases.

          • Theresa Klein

            In many cases, “the community” includes a large number of people who DO want that person to be able to use the roads, parks, and fountains, etc, who have never agreed or signed any contract saying they are not permitted to invite that person in. You’re again conceding the progressives argument that majority rule binds people who have never agreed to be bound by majority rule.

          • Lacunaria

            No, you are ignoring my argument from voluntary agreements on justice and mutual defense. i.e. Would you agree to democratically compromise on external threats for mutual defense?

            You have to define your assumptions. All of the examples given arise from the premise that positive systems of justice and mutual defense can simply be assumed, but that is false.

            If you want to move and live in the state of nature where you owe people nothing but to leave them alone, then you should have that freedom and then you can morally invite whomever you want under those same constraints. However, when someone comes along and violates your rights, then no one has any binding obligation to help you.

          • Theresa Klein

            Would you agree to democratically compromise on external threats for mutual defense?

            Not if it means that I am forbidden from engaging in voluntary contracts with “foreigners”.

          • Lacunaria

            What kind of mutual defense agreement do you envision that allows you to invite anyone you want without compromise?

            Do you think that everyone has the same conception of the external threats to defend against?

            Don’t you think that people would want to minimize their risk from external violations?

          • King Goat

            Don’t you think that people would disagree about internal threads to and that many will want to minimize their risk from internal violations? After all, in social contract theory we don’t just compromise for defense of our rights from outsiders, but from the other contractees as well (enemies ‘foreign and domestic’). So why would you think we simply have to compromise on the issue of borders but not on other liberty-related issues internally?

          • Lacunaria

            Yes, we may have to compromise on some other issues, too, such as how the US Constitution was intended to do interstate, but the pressure upon us is less because we have limited our external risk. e.g. we can have freer internal migration and trade because we limit our risk from external sources.

            Internal communities (like US states, then counties, etc.) should then compete to minimize the pressures to compromise. At each successive level, we will be able to compromise less and less.

            Contra your position, I consider it an error to believe that we do not need to make any compromises, or that the state doesn’t (poorly) function as those compromises for us now.

            The most we can hope for is to minimize the degree of compromise required of us through competition, including minimizing the bundling of our agreements, at each level, so that we can accept one without another, rather than our current, increasing monolith.

            The highest level atomic agreement is mutual defense against external threats. Immigration that decreases the rule of law motivates compromise on invitation. But if you won’t even roughly compromise on inviting external threats, then how are you going to get anyone to compromise to defend you more precisely inside?

          • King Goat

            “then how are you going to get anyone to compromise to defend you more precisely inside?”

            You don’t get that the ‘compromises to defend you more precisely inside’ can and are going to include a host of illiberal measures. Some people feel threatened by immigrants, so you say we need to compromise for the sake of mutual defense and limit immigration. But now some people think hate speech within our borders threatens all our rights, so we need to compromise there now. And now some think gun possession threatens us, so there goes that. And now I think people teaching without a license threatens us, so there goes that…Etc., etc

          • Lacunaria

            I address this in our other thread by pointing out that those are separate agreements and we should be free to separate on those issues if necessary. Let’s continue this in the other thread.

          • Theresa Klein

            I didn’t say *anyone* I want.
            However, if what people want to be defended against is competition, I don’t think they have a legitimate right to keep me from inviting people in. If I want to hire someone from a foreign country and they are not a security risk – they have no criminal record, do not adhere to any philosophy that advocates violence against my fellow citizens, they should be allowed in.

            US immigration law right now is almost entirely designed to protect domestic labor from competition. There’s really almost nothing in the way of determining a person’s political beliefs, and yet numerous hoops that employers must pass to “prove” that the immigrant isn’t going to take a job that could be filled by an American. That goes for both H1-B visas and employer-sponsored green cards. In both cases the Department of Labor has to approve, and the employer, a US citizen, must prove to the satisfaction of the DOL that they couldn’t find a qualified American candidate for any job. This process can take years and cost thousands of dollars. That is an infringement on the rights of the employer.

            I see no avenue in which preventing me from hiring a peaceful immigrant in any way constitutes “mutual defence”.

          • Lacunaria

            I agree with that entirely! I think that you and I would largely agree on what qualifies as threats for our mutual defense, including the immigration policy that entails.

            Namely, we would be looking to maximize permission of peaceable, non-violent entrants, but we could morally exclude members of statistically violating groups / philosophy, even if we cannot individually prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt through due process. You and I still might need to compromise with each other on what qualifies as a violent group or philosophy, but we at least share that broad principle.

            In other words, it sounds like you would agree to use a different standard for rejecting immigrants than we use for internal conviction and imprisonment.

            That is the primary point I am making to Freiman, King Goat, etc., because that means that their moral construction is incorrect.

            Moreover, I think that you and I could find enough people who would agree with us to form an effective mutual defense agreement.

            By contrast, I think that very few would accept the global risk and positive obligation of justice that King Goat, et al, are proposing where only provably active criminals could morally be excluded. Because that is not within their self-interest.

            However, the caveat of my moral construction is that if we cannot find enough people to agree with us on what qualifies as threats to defend against, then we are faced with a very real dilemma:

            Would we prefer to take the risk that our small group won’t be able to defend our rights by ourselves, or are we willing to further compromise with others on who we can invite in order to have a stronger total defense of our rights?

            I will happily advocate that the Lac+Theresa open immigration policy is the most moral, but compromising for better defense is not immoral. It’s a trade-off. There are natural pressures to life that we have to deal with and the best we can often do is try to maximize consent and localize responsibility and consequences.

          • Les Kyle Nearhood

            so he will get on welfare

        • Theresa Klein

          Being a US Citizen is not analagous to being a member of a housing coop as citizenship is acquired by birth and not by voluntary agreement.

          If you believe that contracts can be entered into by birth then you are effectively conceding every other social contract argument, including those made by progressives that people are simply born into social obligations and bound by democratic majority will without any voluntary choice on their part.

          If you want to say that compromise on entrance doesn’t entail compromise on other issues, you have to explain why one can born with obligations regarding entrance but not obligations regarding other things.

          • Lacunaria

            Being a US Citizen is not analogous to being a member of a housing coop as citizenship is acquired by birth and not by voluntary agreement.

            Citizenship is acquired in a number of ways, including voluntary consent through legal immigration, but how would you prefer that justice and mutual defense work for children if they don’t inherit some default from their parents?

            If you believe that contracts can be entered into by birth then you are effectively conceding every other social contract argument

            No, I don’t think that all aspects of the social contract are necessarily moral or consensual, but if you would agree to democratically compromise on external threats for mutual defense, then that lends some legitimacy to the government doing that.

            If you want to say that compromise on entrance doesn’t entail compromise on other issues, you have to explain why one can born with obligations regarding entrance but not obligations regarding other things.

            I don’t think we are born with positive obligations. Absent any agreements, we are not even born with positive obligations to defend or seek justice for others. So, if that is important to you, then some compromise will be required of you, and just because you might accept those positive obligations for some people does not mean you must accept them for all others.

          • Theresa Klein

            Do you think we are born with negative obligations not to interfere with other people’s liberty to pursue their personal interests?

          • Lacunaria

            Personal interests that likewise don’t interfere with other people or their property? Sure.

            The question is, how are you going to defend your natural rights?

          • Theresa Klein

            Defending my natural rights can’t, by definition, necessitate violating other people’s. If it does, then you haven’t defined what our rights are properly. Rights must be universally applicable to everyone.

          • Lacunaria

            Of course, I agree. What makes you think I am advocating violating anyone’s rights?

            All I’m saying is that if you don’t compromise on who you can invite in exchange for mutual defense, then no one is under any binding obligation to defend you.

            We each must balance the strength in numbers in defending our rights from (what we each see as) external threats, against our ideal of being able to invite anyone we want inside.

    • martinbrock

      Yes, Robin’s coop may exclude anyone it likes (including religious, ethnic and other minorities as far as I’m concerned), but all of central North America is not a single community of this sort, so any comparison between the two is nonsensical. I may exclude door to door, encyclopedia salesmen from my house, but no one defends a restriction on encyclopedia imports this way.

      The argument is closely analogous to open borders between states in the United States. All of central North America is not a homogeneous culture in reality, but radically open borders across central North America do not pose the pose the problems that opponents of open borders imagine.

  • Lacunaria

    There’s a reason why Freiman switches from US and Canada for citizenship to a neighborhood which lacks any distinct defense against the outside, ignores any positive system of justice, does not consider any mechanisms for determining what is public and what “public” means, does not define the right of movement, and does not consider any risk that Sally might pose.

    Freiman’s analogies are all based upon these assumptions which his critics, and reality, do not share. Whatever may be the merits of his argument, they are to be found in his assumptions, not in these superficial strawmen analogies.

    • martinbrock

      A neighborhood (a few hundred square miles say) seems to me far more defensible than central North America. If the borders of the United States are the right scale for this defense, why do we have 12 million illegal immigrants?

      • Lacunaria

        I wasn’t justifying a particular scale or actual US policies, I was just challenging Freiman’s arguments that restricting immigration is immoral at any scale.

        So, to answer your question, the US may not be the right scale.

        That said, starting locally is good, but there are also natural pressures to expand border compromises even beyond your large neighborhoods, not only for greater defenses, but also for justice, trade, etc.

        Schengen-like agreements, for example, have the benefit of easing internal migration between neighborhoods at the expense of compromising at external borders.

        • martinbrock

          There are natural pressures toward everything that exists.

          Small, sovereign communities may cooperate for a common defense or justice or trade. Sovereign communities may have, and most would have, agreements governing their interaction with other communities, but no external authority enforces these agreements. Only the internal pressure holding members of a community together (though they are always free to leave) enforces enforce agreements between communities. That’s the libertarian ideal (or my libertarian ideal) anyway.

          Free communities may have Schengen-like agreements with neighboring communities, and these communities may become, in a limited sense, a single community, but each community may withdraw from the agreement at will or interpret its requirements idiosyncratically. Again, the absence of a central authority compelling communities to accept terms is the libertarian ideal.

          • Lacunaria

            There are natural pressures toward everything that exists; otherwise, it wouldn’t exist.

            Not quite, at least the way I was using the term. I would categorize someone robbing you as an artificial pressure to comply, but this contributes to a more general natural pressure to form agreements to defend against such occurrences.

            I’m arguing that there is a significant interest in voluntary mutual defense agreements which entail some compromise on immigration. Likewise justice and trade agreements create insides and outsides.

            I basically agree with your ideal, and if Freiman wants to argue that California has the right to secede, for example, I’m open to it.

            Of course, I also think that there are more moral and less moral ways to go about it, but separation to localize the consequences of decisions to the deciders is perhaps the ultimate moral and it conveniently doesn’t require us to adjudicate most of the other morals.

            To some extent, I see Freiman’s argument as an attack on the utility and moral legitimacy of such separation.

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    Prof. Freiman:
    Forgive my plain speaking, but this post fails to seriously engage with the arguments raised by Danny, myself, and others. I say this because you ignore the obvious fact that rights sometimes conflict, as in the trolley problem, Joel Feinberg’s “Hiker” case, and a million other real world examples. This permits you to avoid addressing the central question I and others have posed. What if, contrary I’m sure to your hopes, open borders made it, for example, substantially more dangerous for US citizens to mock Islam, to walk down major urban centers dressed as Orthodox Jews, or for gays to express affection in public. What then?

    Your “George” example does not help at all, because the rights in question are plainly composible. “George” can and should respect both Sally’s and Robin’s rights, because upholding one person’s does not violate the other’s. On the other hand, I argued in the last thread that nations have a stringent obligation to protect the natural rights of their citizens, and no one contested my reasoning. At least in principle, this duty can conflict with foreigners’ right to migrate.

    Moreover, your example does not show that states have strong obligations to the relevant set of foreigners, because Sally and Robin are both within our borders and thus entitled to equal protection under our law. If a tourist is murdered or assaulted here, we can and do try to solve the case. But, if Sally was an African-American civil rights activist murdered in the Jim Crow South and Robin a Shia rights-activist murdered in Saudi Arabia, our federal government would be obligated to solve the former but not the latter. Since the question is whether would-be migrants (i.e. those not within our borders) are entitled to move here, my example is the applicable one.

    Huemer’s case of the job finalists doesn’t do it either, because you daughter does not have a right to this job. Therefore, preventing the foreigner from getting to the interview is an unwarranted interference, because it does not protect her rights. Much closer to the mark would be a case where your daughter was on her way to participate in a well-publicized “Draw Muhammad” contest, and the foreigner had expressed his intent to kill anyone who dared.

    Yes, restrictions on migration may also impact our citizens, but as I previously argued, this fact does not eliminate the need to address the problem of negative externalities. If I happen to own 10,000 acres of land in a rural area with a aquifer that is stretched thin, I do not necessarily have the right to invite 100,000 foreigners to live with me if this causes the existing population to either die of thirst or flee their homes. Similarly, I don’t have the right to invite 100,000 residents from North Waziristan to live in this same locale if they will summarily murder anyone who they deem to have insulted Muhammad.

    • martinbrock

      If I happen to own 10,000 acres of land in a rural area with a aquifer that is stretched thin, I do not necessarily have the right to invite 100,000 foreigners to live with me if this causes the existing population to either die of thirst or flee their homes.

      You don’t own the land at all if your neighbors will not respect your exclusive use of it, so you don’t have a right to raise 100,000 head of cattle on the land under these circumstances (scarce water) either. Does your right to host these foreigners on the land differ from your right to raise the cattle?

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Don’t agree with your first sentence, which assumes some moral views that make no sense to me. With respect to negative externalities, the cases are potentially the same. Except, if I was raising cattle openly, and then my neighbors moved next to me, assuming the risk of drought, then its their problem to solve. If the community norm was that each land owner had the UNLIMITED right to invite people on his land, then same answer. Don’t think immigration is like that.

        • martinbrock

          I agree that a community norm governs both scenarios, but I don’t understand the difference between “community norm” and “neighbors will respect”. My first sentence only says that your ownership of the land is subject to community norms.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            I may own the land under the correct moral theory, even if my neighbors reject that theory.

          • martinbrock

            If your neighbors reject the moral theory you label “correct”, you’ll have little luck exercising the rights you imagine. Choosing your neighbors carefully is important for this reason, but I see no need for central authorities decreeing one moral theory “correct” across all of central North America.

    • King Goat

      “I say this because you ignore the obvious fact that rights sometimes conflict”

      You keep repeating that they haven’t addressed your point, but in reality they’ve addressed it over and over and you totally miss their rebuttal and then keep saying they haven’t addressed it. It’s comically ironic. You say ‘rights conflict, and we might have to restrict some rights to protect other people’s other rights’ and they’ve said, over and over, that that type of thinking isn’t limited to immigration but could just as easily involve someone saying ‘your hate speech leads to crime/disorder that impinges on others’ rights, so it has to be restricted; your free trade leads to economic displacement/disorder that impinges on other’s rights, so it has to be restricted, etc., etc.,’ and so this isn’t much of a *libertarian* position. You show that at some level you understand this to be the case with your statement in reply to martinbrock below that a person’s right to raise cattle on his land might be restricted because of negative externalities.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        ^ [This is my personal troll. I think he has a little too much time on his hands, as he follows me around BHL like a lost puppy dog, commenting on my comments. I am trying to discourage this, as I don’t have the patience to train him not to soil the carpet. Thus, I am now activating troll counter-measures…]

        Hey, Barnyard Animal, did I happen to mention that my Libertarian Philosophy in the Real World: The Politics of Natural Rights (Bloomsbury, 2015) received a really positive review in Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, http://interpretationjournal.com/backissues/Vol_42_3.pdf. My favorite part is this (p.489): “It would be misleading, however, to suggest that Friedman simply speaks to shared beliefs. He often offers arguments that are remarkably lucid, succinct, and thorough, and he is honest when he does not know how to solve a problem.”

        Was that also your favorite? If you ask your Mommy really nice, perhaps she’ll loan you the money to buy a copy.
        BTW, I’m still looking for great stuff written by “King Goat,” but haven’t found it. Don’t fret, I’ll keep trying.

        • King Goat

          You inability to address counterarguments is noted again my autistic friend.

          • AP²

            You’re using “austistic” as a slur. Don’t do that.

          • AP²

            *autistic

  • martinbrock

    … states have stronger obligations to their citizens than they have to foreigners.

    Right. This national socialism is the genesis and ultimate rationale for closed borders. The fascists won some time ago. We’re now born into an involuntary, mutual aid association of ever expanding scope and jurisdiction, and predictably, its most central authorities increasingly define “mutual aid” to mean increasing benefits for themselves at the expense of their subjects.

  • Theresa Klein

    Maybe we could try just having open borders between the US, Canada and Mexico, as an experiment.

    That way we can separate the argument about radical Islam from the argument about unskilled labor competition.

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    Prof. Freiman:
    Since you seem to not be responding to comments on this thread, here’s another one you can ignore. You say, The general point is that the state’s negative duty to not coerce foreigners typically outweighs its positive duty to benefit citizens. But, this is wrong.

    The state has no general duty not to coerce foreigners (or citizens). Its only obligation is not to violate their rights; sometimes coercion or force is not just permissible, but laudable. Your only argument to the effect that excluding certain groups of would-be immigrants violates their rights seems to be that this harms them. But, here again, many harms are not morally objectionable. When I am hired for the job you really want and need, I have harmed you, but not violated your rights.

    You cannot deny that it is at least possible that open borders may seriously degrade the negative rights of US citizens. Thus, to justify open borders on an unconditional basis, you are in need of an argument that the purported right of migrants to seek economic opportunity here outweighs the rights of Americans to unfettered free expression and association. As already shown, the mere fact that exclusion may harm certain categories of foreigners doesn’t do it, particularly when the government is under a preexisting duty to its own citizens.

    Nor does the fact that it would be wrong to prohibit US citizens from traveling to NY from CA under similar circumstances, because you are not entitled to assume that the US has the same obligations to foreigners as it does to citizens. As argued in my earlier post, this is clearly false. The US government has, for example, a stringent obligation to protect those living within its borders from foreign military aggression, but no obligation to protect the citizens of any other nation, unless we have agreed to do so (by treaty for example).

    • King Goat

      Jesus, the projection with you. It’s you that are in no way engaging with Chris’s arguments. You seem to be totally oblivious to his point, or willfully just ignoring them and repeating your cherished talking point over and over like the Dustin Hoffman character in Rain Man.

      He’s saying that when you make this argument: “You cannot deny that it is at least possible that open borders may seriously degrade the negative rights of US citizens. Thus, to justify open borders on an unconditional basis, you are in need of an argument that the purported right of migrants to seek economic opportunity here outweighs the rights of Americans to unfettered free expression and association.” you are making the same argument in form of nearly every proponent of restricting a liberty. Those who want to restrict ‘hate speech’ say ‘it’s possible hate speech will seriously degrade the negative rights of other citizens, therefore the latter outweigh the right of haters to speak.’ Those who want to restrict guns say ‘it’s possible gun possession will seriously degrade the negative rights of other citizens, therefore the latter outweigh the right of people to own guns’. The nature of arguments for restriction of liberties often, if not usually, takes the form of ‘this thing is not in itself a direct impingement of liberty, but there’s a risk of it indirectly leading to future impingements, so to keep that possibility from happening we should nip the original, in-itself non-infringing behavior in the bud.’ Gun possession, by itself, harms no one, but some will argue ‘there’s a risk some small number of gun owners will be bad actors who will in the future do something bad, so we have to nip the ownership in the bud now when they’re not exhibiting the risk at all.’ Likewise people like yourself say take immigrants who are not currently harming anyone and say ‘there’s a risk that some small number of them will in the future do something bad, so for the risk’s sake we should nip them all in the bud now when they’re not exhibiting the risk at all!

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        ^ [This is my personal troll. I think he has a little too much time on his hands, as he follows me around BHL like a lost puppy dog, commenting on my comments. I am trying to discourage this, as I don’t have the patience to train him not to soil the carpet. Thus, I am now activating troll counter-measures…]

        Hey, Barnyard Animal, did I happen to mention that my Libertarian Philosophy in the Real World: The Politics of Natural Rights (Bloomsbury, 2015) received a really positive review in Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, http://interpretationjournal.com/backissues/Vol_42_3.pdf. My favorite part is this (p.489): “It would be misleading, however, to suggest that Friedman simply speaks to shared beliefs. He often offers arguments that are remarkably lucid, succinct, and thorough, and he is honest when he does not know how to solve a problem.”

        Was that also your favorite? If you ask your Mommy really nice, perhaps she’ll loan you the money to buy a copy.
        BTW, I’m still looking for great stuff written by “King Goat,” but haven’t found it. Don’t fret, I’ll keep trying.

  • Steven Flaeck

    _Suppose that George is a police officer. We again think it is still just as wrong for George to threaten Sally as it is for him to coerce Robin, even though George is an official in the U.S. government._

    Say Sally and Robin are in an altercation because Robin is attempting to vote in a Canadian election and Sally has helped an election official escort her out. Is it more wrong for George to coerce Sally? Certainly so: George should recognize that Sally is on the right side of this dispute and Robin is harassing her.

    This whole line of reasoning is wrong. We think that government officials owe special duties to citizens _all the time_, namely those duties related to the rights of citizens qua citizens.

    Your jobs example relies on presuming the government has the same kinds of duties people do. But that’s obviously not the case, even if we accept that the government is composed of people. For instance, if we run it through Rawls, the government ends up with duties no person has and his veil of ignorance process sounds plausible to us _precisely_ because the results seem to let people not have those duties!

    The TSA example is another in the pattern of the Sally/Robin/George argument.

    I happen to like immigration. In fact, I think we should send for additional immigrants, send flotillas of cruise ships to pick up refugees. But this is just lazy argumentation.