Moral versus practical arguments

See also moderate versus radical open borders and gradual versus sudden open borders

On this website, the moral case and practical case are given separately, not because there is a clean separation between “moral” and “practical” arguments, but because the mode of presentation and focus differ somewhat. On this blog and elsewhere, people have pondered both the strategic and epistemic value of focusing on moral versus practical arguments. “Practical” arguments differ in that they generally operate within the implicit moral framework of stated discourse (that tends to gravitate towards citizenism and territorialism) because of the absence of explicit consideration of moral issues.

Some of the discussion is linked to below:

  • Egoism, Libertarianism, Persuasion, and Worthy Arguments by Bryan Caplan, EconLog, May 23, 2013, where he responds to commenter Brian. Caplan writes:

    For many other important libertarian issues, appeals to self-interest are factually correct but, to use Brian’s word, “unworthy.” Immigration is such an issue. Yes, doubling GDP by opening world borders will enrich most people in the First World. But these economic benefits for First Worlders are not the main reason why I advocate open borders. The main reason I advocate open borders is that immigration restrictions are a terrible injustice against people from Third World countries. Once someone retreats to, “Yes, immigration restrictions are a terrible injustice, but doing the right thing would be very costly,” I’m happy to delve into the social science with them. Until then, they’re just missing the point.

  • The Moral Is the Practical by Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution, February 15, 2014.
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