Human capabilities case for open borders

The “human capabilities” approach can be thought of as a moral theory that straddles the divide between libertarian and utilitarian theories. Libertarianism focuses on formal freedoms, i.e., negative rights. Utilitarianism focuses on what actually happens. The human capabilities approach focuses on whether people have the opportunities to fulfil their human potential. This goes further than libertarianism (which just focuses on the absence of obstacles posed by others) but stops short of utilitarianism, because of its focus is on capabilities, not outcomes.

This approach, in various forms, has been developed by Amartya Sen and by Martha Nussbaum.

A case for open borders can be made using the human capabilities model. To some extent, this would simply be a combination of the libertarian case and the utilitarian case. If you have a more egalitarian perspective of human capabilities, it can also borrow from the egalitarian case.

Writings that make the case for (more) open borders based on the human capabilities approach

What is the human capabilities approach?

The Wikipedia page on the subject is here. The references in the page offer a good starting point for reading about this approach.

There is also a website on the capability approach here.

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