Which Borders?

Moral Philosophy and Politics 6 (1):133-146 (2019)
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Abstract
The best arguments for a nation-state’s right to exclude unwanted outsiders actually condemn nation-level regimes of restriction. Two argumentative steps lead to this conclusion. The first points out that the best arguments for exclusion generalize: if they show that nation-states have the right to exclude, they perform the same service for a great many towns, cities, subnational states, and provinces. The second step constructs a dilemma. The right to exclude is important enough to justify the suffering of would-be immigrants, or it is not. If it is, the right to exclude is very important indeed–would-be immigrants often suffer grievously. But nation-level regimes would then be a serious moral problem: they would deprive a great many municipalities of a right that matters a great deal. Turning to the dilemma’s second horn, if the right to exclude is not important enough to justify the suffering of would-be immigrants, nation-level regimes are straightforwardly immoral. Either way, we arrive at this paper’s central thesis: the best arguments for a nation-states right to exclude actually condemn nation-level regimes of exclusion.
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Archival date: 2019-11-13
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2019-05-18

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