All Men Are Created Equal...

If all men are created equal, as The Declaration of Independence suggests, and if we are all endowed by our Creator--whether that be God, nature or something else--with certain unalienable Rights, then these rights must be universal and we may not distinguish between individuals on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity etc. with respect to rights.

This does not mean that people shouldn't be free to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity etc. with respect to other matters. If one rejects positive rights and only adheres to negative rights, employers should be free to fire or refuse to hire blacks, women, and Jews because there is no negative right to a job. But it does mean that if murdering a white person is wrong, then murdering a black person is wrong as well, because there is (supposedly) a negative right to life.

When Thomas Jefferson cribbed The Declaration of Independence from John Locke, society did not live up to its own standards. It did not act as if all men--and women--were created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. But today we recognize their mistake and we try to act accordingly.

Yet insofar as we postulate any positive rights at all, even positive rights like police protection, which are in turn allegedly justified because they help secure negative rights, we are not living up to the standards of The Declaration of Independence unless we are willing to grant this same positive right to police protection to all people in the moral community, regardless of national origin.

This is a major weakness in both deontological minarchism and Rawlsian welfare-state liberalism: distinctions between people based on geographical location are unacceptably arbitrary and ethically unjustifiable. If deontological minarchists are going to claim that the government is entitled to steal from some Americans to pay for the police protection of other Americans, they must also claim that the government is entitled to steal from some Americans to pay for the police protection of all non-Americans as well. Similarly, if Rawlsians are going to claim that behind a veil of ignorance, none of us know whether we will be born to a family of privilege or poverty, and therefore we would choose to minimize this risk by instituting policies to maximize the welfare of the worst-off, the same is even more true with regard to country of origin. Inequalities between countries are much greater than inequalities within countries.

Just as it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity etc. (Peter Singer would throw species into this list) when determining who is entitled to certain rights and who isn?t, so too it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of nationality.

Brad Delong conceded this point to Tyler Cowen a few weeks ago. I?ve yet to hear a convincing argument in support of nationalistic bigotry.

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Totally OT, thanks for

Totally OT, thanks for blogrolling me. :)

I had a long post prepared about deontological minarchism, but you beat me to it . . . KIDDING!

If there's a single

If there's a single character in fact or fiction QUITE as nationalistic as the God of the Jews, I don't know who that might be. Read your Old Testament lately? :)

(I can't be anti-Semitic unless I really, really, hate my Mom.)