Sailer on Fundamental Moral Obligations
By Bryan Caplan
“Biased in favor of” is hardly the same as “recognizes no moral
obligations to non-citizens” and does not imply Poisoning Children. I
also do not, for example, to use one of your 3 AM in the Dorm Room
hypotheticals from another post, believe America should invade Canada
and enslave Canadians.
I am genuinely glad to hear this. Steve is of course correct that “biased in favor of” does not mean “recognizes no moral obligations to non-citizens.” At the same time, however, I am hardly crazy to wonder about Steve’s true position.
Steve devotes most of his intellectual energy to making policy more biased in favor of citizens. He devotes almost no energy to explaining when that bias would, in his eyes, be sufficient or excessive. Given the many horrors committed by groups explicitly committed to in-group favoritism, he should preemptively affirm our moral obligations to out-groups instead of leaving the issue to listeners’ imaginations.
Now that moral obligations to out-groups are on the table, however, I’d appreciate more details. Steve, would you please name a few examples of citizenist policies that you think go slightly beyond the limits of our moral obligations to outsiders? A few examples of such policies that you think are just barely within those limits? Inquiring minds want to know.
P.S. If you think my trespassing argument is a straw man, Steve embraces it to the letter:
My adolescent child does not have a fundamental right to make a job
offer to a wino to move into our house to do my child’s chores for him
in return for half of his allowance. Nor does the wino then have the
right to invite his brother to move in to our house, nor the wino’s
brother to invite his daughter and her kids in, nor the wino’s
brother’s daughter’s daughter’s husband and his kids from a previous
marriage, etc etc.
This analogy makes perfect sense if (a) the government is the true owner of what I incorrectly call “my” house, and (b) I merely reside there with the government’s permission. Otherwise, the analogy makes no sense at all.