Question for Open Borders Folks

What do believers in open borders do about terrorists who want to immigrate, or other people of an unsavory character? What if the extent of a potential immigrant's transgressions was praising terrorists in public press? He hasn't actually harmed anyone, so to prevent him from immigrating would be unjust according to an open borders philosophy.

I think it clear that the government should prevent such a person from immigrating. In the worst case scenario, he is actually a peaceful person and our country will lose a tiny bit of economic benefit through the loss of economic exchange with him. But if he is not a peaceful person then the decision to let him immigrate is disastrous.

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Would you be willing to

Would you be willing to personally strike down peaceful individuals crossing a line you DO own?

For me, shooting a peaceful person is hard whether or not I own the line. It's the shooting part that is hard, and the abstract quality of the line ("owned" or "not owned") does little to change that.

Once we have acquiesced that force or the threat thereof is necessary in some cases, then the question becomes which cases give us the most benefit for the moral cost we are incurring.

I find it hard to believe that you would be wracked with guilt over defending a line that you don't own, but would sleep soundly at night after gunning down people crossing a line that you do own.

Furthermore, I point out that this whole conversation is hyperbolic since borders can usually be enforced with non-lethal force.

Intentionally trespassing on my property is not peaceful,

and yes, I would definitely be willing to shoot intentional trespassers without any moral qualms.

I find it hard to believe that you would be wracked with guilt over defending a line you don't own, but would sleep soundly at night after gunning down people crossing a line you do own.

I'd have no guilt in the former case because I wouldn't do it, and none in the latter case because I'm entitled to dispose of my property as I see fit.

You speak now as if there are no moral implications to property, no moral difference between using your own property or using mine.

Finally, your use of the word "defend" implies a legitimate right in sealing the border, but you don't have nay such right. It's not your's and you are not defending the legitimate right of any party. For me to prevent peaceful individuals from entering your property would not be a legitimate defense of anything.

I'd have no guilt in the

I'd have no guilt in the former case because I wouldn't do it, and none in the latter case because I'm entitled to dispose of my property as I see fit.

I'm glad you weren't my neighbor when I was growing up. Occasionally a ball would get over the fence and we would go after it. Our neighbors would yell at us, but they never brought out the shotguns.

It's interesting that US case law does not allow for as absolutist a definition of property rights as you describe. Ownership is a much more nuanced package of rights. I think US case law regarding property is much closer to optimum than the all-or-none game that libertarian philosophers play.

I'm glad you weren't my

I'm glad you weren't my neighbor when I was growing up. Occasionally a ball would get over the fence and we would go after it. Our neighbors would yell at us, but they never brought out the shotguns.

Unlike your border patrol, eh?

The fact that I could shoot an intentional trespasser without moral qualm in no way implies any intent to shoot all trespassers. But if you intended to intentionally trespass and I wanted to keep you off my property I would be perfectly willing to stand at my property line with a baseball bat and apply it to your head, like so:

You asked - I answered fairly.

So I ask you again: Would you be willing to personally apply the same force to prevent peaceful immigrants from crossing the border?

Here's why I say you are in denial about the moral implications of your policy: You obviously have no qualms about paying others to do this violence so long as you don't have to think about it clearly, but when asked if you would do it yourself you come up decidedly short.

Ownership is a much more nuanced package of rights.

Really, what are rights?

Yes, your understanding of rights is so "nuanced" that you find the difference between what's your's and what isn't to be an irrelevant abstraction.

Nuanced rights

I was merely pointing out that Anglo-Saxon case law does not regard property as absolute. I don't know of any society that has used an absolute definition of property.

In America, ownership of a piece of property is defined by a bundle of rights. This includes the right to erect barriers to keep other people out, the right to be compensated if someone else damages your property, and the right to modify your property. However, ownership does not include the right to do whatever you wish. You may build a fence to keep out the neighborhood kids, but you may not shoot at them or plant landmines.

The court reasons that property rights are beneficial to society and enforces a fairly strong Locke-inspired definition of property rights. However, while the court acknowledges that trespass ought to be punished, it does not judge death to be a good punishment either in the particular case or in the social aggregate. It is too strong an incentive. Children might trespass on your field unknowingly or without much malice, or a pregnant mother caught in a snow storm may break into your log cabin to escape the elements. The court has ruled that compensation for damages, not death, is the proper amount of deterrent in such cases.

Sometimes those dirty collectivists sound downright humane.

I am trying to describe what currently exists. I am not necessarily advocating it. However, it does sound very wise to me.

Children might trespass on

Children might trespass on your field unknowingly or without much malice, or a pregnant mother caught in a snow storm may break into your log cabin to escape the elements.

I just pointed out that the fact that the fact that I could kill an intentional trespasser without moral qualm in no way implies any intent to kill all trespassers.

The court reasons that property rights are beneficial to society and enforces a fairly strong Locke-inspired definition of property rights. However, while the court acknowledges that trespass ought to be punished, it does not judge death to be a good punishment either in the particular case or in the social aggregate.

Except that representatives of the state are legally entitled to use deadly force against trespassers who sufficiently decline to obey them, so the courts do in fact sanction deadly force in such cases.

Anyone might recognize rights, but what would give a court the right to create them?

And I ask again: Would you be willing to use deadly force against peaceful individuals attempting to cross the border? It's very embarrassing to give a straight answer to that question, isn't it?

I would feel fairly

I would feel fairly comfortable enforcing border laws as they currently are enforced, as deadly force is generally reserved for trespassers that appear to have malicious intent. I've watched a lot of police chase videos and the situations where the police start shooting at people is pretty rare. I don't feel too bad about tackling and restraining someone, although I would prefer to do so only to enforce just laws. I'd make a bad cop.

Unlike you, I would not feel comfortable putting slugs through the neighborhood kids that I catch on my lawn, despite the fact that it is my property. At least, I wouldn't "have no moral qualm" in doing so.

Come on, you don't think it's a little wrong for you to kill little Jimmie when he goes after the football that went over the fence? You note that you might not do so, but if you did then you would feel perfectly justified.

I'm not so sure this libertarianism represents the moral advance that's advertised. Seems the status quo is more humane in many ways.

At this point you are just

At this point you are just being either stupid or dishonest in your arguments, repeatedly ignoring what the other guy is pointing out and building ever bigger straw men. The only reader you can possibly convince at this point is one who already agrees with you and is willing to set aside your bad arguments. You've essentially lost the argument, which was as a matter of fact evident from the moment you changed the subject away from borders to your moronic caricature of libertarian views on private property. Game over.

Constant, here was John: I

Constant, here was John:

I could kill an intentional trespasser without moral qualm

Jacob is quite rightly pointing out that the moral implications (i.e., killing a child) of that strike many people as monstrous, JUST AS Micha thinks the moral implications of border discrimination are abhorrent.

He's not being "moronic", "stupid", or "dishonest". Anyone who doesn't have their head buried in philosophical theory can see what Jacob was saying. He may be wrong, but he really doesn't deserve to be insulted like that.

The words "an" and "any" mean different things, last I looked.

So:

A. "I could kill an X without moral qualm."

...means something different from:

B. "I could kill any X without moral qualm."

I said A, you're incorrectly attributing meaning B to me.

I do not think killing *any* trespasser is justified, but I could kill without moral qualm an individual whose only offense against me was intentional trespass.

My property cannot be disposed of as I see fit without the willingness to ultimately use deadly force against those who would interfere with my use of it. I recognize that and I'm morally prepared to employ deadly force.

The border Jacob wishes to secure cannot be secured without the willingness to ultimately use deadly force against peaceful immigrants who would cross - as Gandhi demonstrated. Jacob simply pretends this is not true and hires others to do what he is not willing to take moral responsibility for.

Question is, will Curunir

Question is, will Curunir now admit he was wrong, and retract his previous comment?

I'll concede that's a

I'll concede that's a potential interpretation, yes. That it's the most natural, no. But I prefer to be as charitable as possible, and I also have no interest in a long-winded battle of attrition over it, so that'll be all I'll say.

I'm probably just being

I'm probably just being stupid. I'll try to summarize what I understand.

John does insist that it is his moral right to shoot at people who cross an imaginary line onto land that he owns, regardless of the circumstances. Although he informs us that there are circumstances where he would not do so. An interesting aside: why the restraint? Is it some innate sense of morality, telling him his too-neat moral framework is wrong? I'd guess so.

Furthermore, he claims that it would be evil of him to shoot at people crossing an imaginary line onto land that he does not own.

John is presenting us a very simple moral system. It has a lot of black and white, derived from first principles. It is emotionally satisfying, like Euclidean geometry, to people that have a predisposition towards such things.

I find John's system a little unsatisfying. While defending the abstract principle of property is a valuable thing, it is too much to defend it with death against people who mean no malice. I point out that in real life over the last few hundred years, the Anglo-Saxon court system has instituted a system of property rights that is strong but nuanced, and that I feel is more moral and more desirable. John should be allowed to shoot at people that come onto his property with a deadly weapon, but he should go to jail for shooting kids that trespass on his lawn.

For John, the binary quality of an ownership right is everything. Do I have the right to this land? If yes, I can do whatever I want on it. If no, I can't do the least thing on it. To me, this leads to undesirable outcomes. If such conceptions of rights are tempered with an eye to the outcomes they produce, I think we wind up at a better world. This is precisely the kind of cost/benefit analysis that Anglo-Saxon court systems have (imperfectly) used, because, suprise!, the courts have not been staffed solely by evil and stupid people over the last few hundred years.

I feel a similar nuanced system of defense would be appropriate for enforcing a national border. A Mexican kid that goes over the border in search of a stray soccer ball should not be shot at by border guards. A man sprinting across the border with a bomb in his arms ought to be struck down. People somewhere in between should probably be locked up and deported.

If the current system does allow border guards to shoot at kids chasing a soccer ball without repercussions, well that is something I think should be changed.

John wants to know if I would willingly shoot people crossing the border. My answer is that I would be fine personally enforcing the border as I have outlined. He thinks that such laws are implicitly enforced by the threat of death, even when death is not used. Maybe, but I've watched a lot of police TV, and the police go through a lot of trouble to avoid shooting at people unless they are suspected of murder or something like that.

You think I'm being intellectually dishonest by refusing to acknowledge that the power to lock people up and deport them is derived from the threat of death. That might be so, but I'm also pretty sure most border guards go an entire career without killing anyone, and I think that ought to count for something.

For me, outcomes matter more than the idea of rights. Rights are a tool to get us to a desirable world. Property rights are desirable, and border enforcement is desirable (assumed, for the sake of this discussion). Killing people is a bad outcome. It should be used only when it prevents a worse outcome. There are a range of penalties that can be enforced less than killing people, and these should be utilized. The libertarian claim that these penalties are the moral equivalent of killing people because they are backed up by the threat of deadly force is a bit of a cludgy moral hack, sort of like assuming the truth of Euclid's Fifth postulate because it makes things pretty.

Anyways, the libertarian "fifth postulate" is stupid because it could be easily made obsolete by technology. Imagine a world where cops had stun phasers. Fuck, the libertarian moral case against the state just collapsed. My bad.

Anyways, perhaps I'm wrong, dishonest, stupid, and moronic for thinking these things, but I have no head or heart for these moral arguments anymore. I don't care if one magic line is more "right" than some other
magic line. I do care how these magic lines lead us to a better world.

I "dodged John's question" because I wanted to make clear that this debate is not between evil collectivists and happy kind individualists. It's between people that want to bust a cap in yo ass for crossing one set of magic lines and people that want to bust a cap in yo ass for crossing a different set of magic lines. Don't get it twisted.

Jacob, since we're on page 2...

...and the comments are becoming more difficult to follow, might it be better to post this as a new post? This is a nice summary of your viewpoint.

Gandhi called your bluff

He demonstrated that you can't can't stop peaceful individuals from crossing the line without deadly force. You rely on the fact that the threat of deadly force usually suffices, and pretend you're not advocating its use.

I'll go ahead and admit that

I'll go ahead and admit that I didn't watch the Ghandi video, because I don't have a high opinion of Ghandi and didn't feel like watching a video. If the conversation is going to hinge on that I'll give it a look.

I didn't watch the video

I didn't watch the video either, but I know what JTK is talking about. You don't have to watch the video to understand the Gandhi reference. Of course, if you don't know very much about Gandhi, then by all means, watch the video.

You guys are still on

You guys are still on dial-up?

Oh, how lucky we are...

that we have such reasonable courts to grant us this favor!

The court reasons that property rights are beneficial to society and enforces a fairly strong Locke-inspired definition of property rights.

Let us hope our wise rulers continue to deem our petty lives beneficial to their society!

Denial of moral implications

Furthermore, I point out that this whole conversation is hyperbolic since borders can usually be enforced with non-lethal force.

Translation: As long as people are convinced that you will shoot them if they don't obey, they'll often obey before you even take your gun out of it's holster.

Good thing I am an

Good thing I am an anarchist, I can avoid these discussions on policy altogether. Unless I feel like dolling out a drive-by, like this:

Silly libtards and structuralists. All you can do is compromise!

I don't recall compromising

I don't recall compromising anything in this thread.

My trolling aside, when I

My trolling aside, when I saw this this horse hockey reach 72 posts, I had to go back and read it all.

I came to two conclusions:

1. Stun phasers are used to force compliance, a threat. This would make the threat of indefinite imprisonment equal (if not greater IMNSHO) to the threat of death. Both threats place the states intended victim under duress.

2. Objective morality is a joke. Consider how cludgy it is when applied to such a simple problem as border security. Now apply it to something like ritual genitalia mutilation on children, i.e. circumcision.

Am I still trolling? probably.

What principles drive this issue?

Basically, on what basis should we discriminate among people? The answer to this question illustrates different concepts of the relationship of an individual to each other, and to the state.

Type 1 people regard the state as a kind of mutual-aid club; the way they behave toward fellow members may well differ from the way they behave toward non-members. In contrast, Type 2 people – including people who don’t place much emphasis on the state – believe that the world view of Type 1 people reflects an unwarranted discrimination. Type 3 people believe in discriminating on the basis of attributes that correlate with wrongfulness; if more than 50% of the people who have a given gene cheat on their taxes, that’s probative evidence that a person with that gene cheats on his taxes. Type 4 people object to the determinism/injustice embraced by Type 3 people, and instead believe in discriminating on the basis of CHOSEN attributes that correlate with wrongfulness. If more than 50% of the people who listen to a given radio station are Republicans, that’s probative evidence that a person who listens to that station is a Republican.

Here are some possible positions on immigration:

1. No limit on immigration/emigration. The state may punish wrongful behavior, but may not otherwise act in the absence of proof of wrongdoing. The state may discriminate among individuals based on [pick as many as apply] –
A. Whether an individual is a citizen of the state and/or
B. Whether an individual has unchosen characteristics that correlate with harmful behavior which after-the-fact remedies are inadequate to discourage (e.g., belonging to an ethnic group that commits a disproportionate share of suicide bombings) and/or
C. Whether the individual has chosen characteristics that correlate with harmful behavior which after-the-fact remedies are inadequate to discourage (e.g., praising suicide bombings).

2. No limit on immigration/emigration. However, if the state has reasonable grounds to suspect that any given individual will violate the laws of the jurisdiction, and that after-the-fact remedies may prove insufficient to motivate compliance, then the state may focus special attention on the individual even in the absence of proof. The state may discriminate among individuals based on [pick as many as apply] –
A. Whether an individual is a citizen of the state, and/or
B. Whether an individual has unchosen characteristics that correlate with wrongful behavior which after-the-fact remedies are inadequate to discourage and/or
C. Whether the individual has chosen characteristics that correlate with wrongful behavior which after-the-fact remedies are inadequate to discourage.

3. Bar an individual from crossing the borders if the state has reasonable grounds to suspect than the individual will violate the laws of the jurisdiction and that after-the-fact remedies may prove insufficient to motivate compliance. The state may discriminate among individuals based on [pick as many as apply] –
A. Whether an individual is a citizen of the state, and/or
B. Whether an individual has unchosen characteristics that correlate with wrongful behavior which after-the-fact remedies are inadequate to discourage and/or
C. Whether the individual has chosen characteristics that correlate with wrongful behavior which after-the-fact remedies are inadequate to discourage.

I guess I currently embrace 1BC: Let people cross borders at will. The state may bring charges and prosecute crimes, but generally the law would apply uniformly to citizens and non-citizens. However, the state may engage in evidence-based statistical discrimination/profiling, and this might justify consideration of citizenship. (For example, the state may take account of the fact that a person is a citizen for purposes of evaluating the likelihood that the person supported terrorism against the state. But citizens and non-citizens would be entitled to similar procedural rights.)

Ironically, while this standard reflects an expansive view of the rights to immigrate, it would also likely require expansive police powers to prosecute the greater number of crimes committed by people who are free to travel for any purpose – including criminal purposes. And it would likely not result in an especially safe populace, in that it would not attempt to screen immigrants for any purpose other than to identify individuals against which the state has reasonable grounds for suspicion. It is unclear to me how much this hypothetical system would differ from the current one in practice.

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