Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Liberalism and borders: Finding moral consensus in the open borders debate
by Askren, Russell Wayne, Ph.D., The University of Utah, 2012, 235; 3521997
Abstract (Summary)

In recent decades liberal political philosophy has debated a significant question: If the basic commitment of liberal political theory is the equal moral standing of all individuals, how do we justify the presence of borders and their control such that individuals receive different consideration and treatment based solely upon their status as members of a particular political community? One position claims that hard borders are unjustifiable; borders must be open as a matter of right and respect for all individuals. At the other end of the spectrum is the position that hard borders are justifiable; borders can be closed as a matter of the right of particular communities to the goods that community creates and the preservation of that community's unique identity. A third category of arguments considers the problem from the perspective of the nonideal circumstances in the world; opening borders is an appropriate and necessary response to resolving problems of hunger, poverty and violence in the world. I examine several arguments in each of these categories, finding that the arguments offered are problematic in ways which make them less than fully persuasive, even though they explore in valuable ways different aspects of the debate. A second problem is that this moral debate has failed to influence in any meaningful way the ongoing public policy debate related to immigration. To overcome this second problem I utilize a model proposed by Jonathan Wolf and Avner de-Shalit in which philosophically fragmented concepts, which cannot influence policy in their fragmented state, are brought to bear upon policy through the identification of the moral consensus present in the debate. This moral consensus, which represents the central moral concern of the debate, can be effectively applied to the appropriate policy debate. The proposed consensus is based upon the central moral concern of the open borders debate, the effect of immigration control policies upon the well-being of individuals, and argues that states may control their borders constrained by the obligation to give consideration to the effects of control policies and to ameliorate the negative effects of such policies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Landesman, Bruce
Commitee: Battin, Margaret, Button, Mark, Chatterjee, Deen, Moellendorf, Darrel
School: The University of Utah
Department: Philosophy
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: DAI-A 73/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethics, Philosophy, Political science
Keywords: Borders, Global justice, Immigration, Liberalism, Open borders
Publication Number: 3521997
ISBN: 9781267536464
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