Tag Archives: rights

Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part III – Impartial Rights

What if you didn’t get to choose your parents? Well, I guess you didn’t. But, who you are born to will greatly dictate your life. Such luck seems incredibly unjust.


We have already explored two other arguments for open borders (the greatest good for the greatest number and libertarianism). We are now at our final argument – the argument from impartial rights. I ask for your patience; this one is a bit complex, but I believe it to be by far the most important, powerful, and profound.

John Rawls thought we should think of society as a group of people who want to cooperate for mutual advantage. To ask what justice requires is to ask what sort of hypothetical contract would free and equal persons agree to as the terms of cooperation. This is our tool for figuring out what justice demands.

But contracts are apt to be unfair in favoring one of the parties because of either ignorance or a superior bargaining position. That is why, when asking what contract we would agree to, we should imagine ourselves behind the “veil of ignorance.”

Behind this veil, we do not know who we will be in the hypothetical society – so we don’t know our race, wealth, health, intelligence, religion, gender, age, etc. We could be anyone in the society we create.

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Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part II – Libertarianism

Will Rand Paul be calling for open borders? Not likely; but perhaps, as a libertarian, he should.

Rand Paul

Few of us have ever stopped to consider whether a country is justified in limiting who can enter its borders. However, it actually may be the case that justice demands open borders.

Libertarianism, a popular political movement at the moment, exemplified by much of the Republican party, actually implies that border control as we understand it is a massive violation of our rights. This is the second part of a series of blogs based on Joseph Carens’s “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders.”

The foundation of libertarianism is that the state does not have any rights which an individual does not have in a situation without government. For instance, imagining a time without government, I have no right to take your property and distribute it as I see fit, so the state does not have such a right either – which is why libertarians fight against welfare programs. To redistribute property, on the libertarian account, is a violation of rights.

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We Too Will Be Remembered: The Fight for Gay Rights

“The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals….  ‘We’re Americans; we just want to be treated like everybody else.’  That’s a compelling argument.  And to deny that, you’ve got to have a very strong argument on the other side.”  This emphatic statement, on the issue of gay marriage, is all the more powerful coming from the mouth of conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly.

O’Reilly went on to say that the strongest argument against gay marriage was the procreation argument.  Having already explained why the procreation argument does not make sense in my previous essay “The Evolving Conception of Marriage”, I would instead like to ask you a question: How comfortable are you with gay people?  To put it more bluntly, does it make you uncomfortable when you see two men kissing?  If your answer is yes, then please keep reading.

This does not make you a “bad person”, or a bigot.  We all have emotional responses, and I am not here to cast judgment, for “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1).  Instead, I would simply like to point out that, in a democracy founded on equality, this is not an adequate reason to prohibit the marriage of two consenting adults.

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Gangbangers, Drug Dealers, and The NRA

On Wednesday, any hope of sensible gun legislation died in the Senate. Not only did the minority filibuster a bill to strengthen background checks for gun purchases, they also did not allow a bill to go through which would help eliminate gun trafficking.

When 92% of Americans support universal background checks, yet a minority of Senators can keep the legislation from passing, we should ask ourselves, “What kind of democracy are we living in?” The public is overwhelmingly in favor of using background checks as a means to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and yet a bill which would have helped ensure this was killed by the minority.

So why did the bill fail? Using lies and paranoia fear tactics, the NRA said that the bill would have created a “registry of gun owners” – when in fact the bill specifically made it a felony to create such a ‘registry’. Sounding just like NRA spokespersons, republican senators said that this bill targets legal gun owners — this also is not the case. The bill actually targets anyone trying to buy a gun, so as to keep criminals from getting them. To top if off, the GOP, having watered down the bill with their “friends and family” amendment, said that this bill wouldn’t do anything to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

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Liberty and the Legitimate Role of Government

Over the past three decades, American culture has become borderline neurotic in its adamant hatred of taxation and government. Driving through even the most progressive areas in the U.S., it doesn’t take long to see a flag or bumper sticker which reads, “Don’t Tread on Me”. And increasingly during elections, one of the most assured ways to win over the public is a promise to cut taxes and keep government out of the lives of citizens.

With the hatred of government and taxation being so widespread, there are a variety of reasons why the two are so despised. While some argue taxation and government are bad because of the consequences they have on the economy and the individual, and others think government and taxation are bad for principled reasons, independent of the consequences, the underlying justification for the widespread loathing of taxes and government seems to be a shared belief that they do much more harm than good.

But if the hatred of taxation and government are so widespread throughout our culture and thought to be so destructive to society and the individual, we must then ask ourselves, why do we even have taxes? And more fundamentally, why do we need government at all?

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