Infeasibility as a normative argument‐stopper: The case of open borders

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The open borders view is frequently dismissed for making infeasible demands. This is a potent strategy. Unlike normative arguments regarding open borders, which tend to be relatively intractable, the charge of infeasibility is supposed to operate as what we call a "normative argument-stopper." Nonetheless, we argue that the strategy fails. Bringing about open borders is perfectly feasible on the most plausible account of feasibility. We consider and reject what we take to be the only three credible ways to save the charge of infeasibility: by proposing an alternative account of feasibility; by proposing an alternative, more circumscribed interpretation of the subject-matter of feasibility claims; and by proposing a more expansive account of the addressees of the demand for open borders. The first fails to vindicate the claim that infeasibility is a normative argument-stopper. The second does not provide an argument against open borders at all. The third underestimates the power of at least some non-state actors. We conclude by drawing some lessons for the open borders view and the use of feasibility in politics more generally.
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First archival date: 2021-01-05
Latest version: 2 (2021-01-05)
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