Ethical Analogy Regarding Immigration

Discussion in 'Immigration/Illegal Immigration' started by Agnapostate, Nov 15, 2008.

  1. Agnapostate
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    The utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer has constructed an interesting analogy for the purpose of illustrating the costs and benefits of accepting immigrants into another country. His scenario involves a nuclear fallout in the Middle East that severely endangers and sickens those exposed to it. Only those who are in fallout shelters can expect to live in a reasonably healthy manner. Those who were farsighted enough to predict the nuclear conflagration in the Middle East, having observed previous international conflicts, have purchased accommodations in the fallout shelters. Each shelter can accommodate about 10,000 people for 20 years, and have elaborate and sophisticated security systems that allow them to admit whosoever they choose and prevent others from entering. Now suppose that word came that the effects of the nuclear fallout would not last as long as was initially anticipated, and will instead last from eight to ten years. Above-ground, a mass of about 10,000 people have gathered pleading to be allowed inside a certain shelter. The 10,000 could be accommodated since the shelter for the 8 to 10 years since the supplies were initially supposed to last for 20 years, and only half would be used should the original 10,000 be the only inhabitants. However, it should be noted that the shelter was designed to function as a luxury retreat when not used for a real emergency, and the current inhabitants are making full use of the tennis courts and swimming pools contained therein. If the 10,000 outsiders were to be permitted inside, the tennis courts and the swimming pools could no longer be used for their intended purpose, as they would instead function as accommodations for the outsiders. However, if the 10,000 are not permitted to enter, they will live a wretched existence above-ground. Many will starve to death, or suffer from excruciating disease and eventually wither away. Would you hold that the 10,000 ought to be permitted inside the shelter, even though they have no "property rights" claim to the shelter? I would say so. It is morally unacceptable to deny the 10,000 admittance to the shelter, because of the consideration of marginal utility that must be taken into account. Permitting the outsiders to enter the shelter would incur a far lesser burden of suffering, in terms of duration and intensity, upon the current inhabitants, than would be incurred on the outsiders were they forced to remain above-ground.

    If you were to permit the entry of the above-ground victims, I would question why or how one can have a profoundly different opinion on the issue of immigration, especially considering that the analogy represents a worst-case scenario for immigrants. In the analogy, the outsider group intended to represent foreigners was partially responsible for their own plight because they did not invest wisely. In American society, Mexican immigrants (the majority group), are not directly responsible for their plight in the same manner. Quite the opposite, in fact. The trade treaty that forced them to relocate because of the destabilization of the Mexican economy, (the North American Free Trade Agreement), was passed against their will. It was the callous decisions made by governmental authorities, including American governmental authorities, that forced them to relocate. Moreover, we are assuming that the outsiders will cause at least some degree of suffering to the shelter inhabitants, even if the marginal utility of their suffering pales when compared to that of the outsiders if forced to remain above-ground. As I have attempted to demonstrate with the statistics that I have cited in the other thread that I started in this forum, the very opposite is arguably true. The immigrants may bring increased happiness rather than increased suffering. We also held that the immigrants had no legitimate "property right" whatsoever to the underground shelter. This is untrue in the case of Mexican immigrants descended from indigenous tribes. They have been robbed of their right to land inheritance by past generations. In the same vein, if Jim's grandfather were to steal something from John's grandfather and pass it down to Jim, the fact that Jim had not personally stolen it would not change the fact that the possession should righfully belong to John. This is true for Mexican immigrants both in the sense that their land was stolen from them in the course of European conquest, and in the course of broken promises of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

    Hence, while considering these additional factors, the denial of the right to emigrate seems especially unjust and brutal, an addition of insult to injury, and it is difficult to conceptualize how any morally just person could oppose it.
     
  2. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    OR...one could apply the lifeboat analogy.

    Once the lifeboat is at capacity, bringing additional people in the save them only dooms then all.

    OR one could use the fire exit analogy for the USA and I think that is more fitting.

    The fire exit can only accomodate so many people going though it at one time.

    If too many people try to jam though it, nobody gets through it.

    I believe that the USA actually already takes in more legal immigrants that the REST OF THE WORLD COMBINED.

    Given that, suggesting that Americans are being selfish by objecting to tens of millions of illegals coming into our nation is what?

    It's kneejerking anti-American.

    This nation can absorb a lot of immigrants but it cannot absorb them ALL.

    The solution isn't to bring immigrants into America, it's to help those nation from which they are fleeing to become properous enough that they don't need to come here.

    Do the math and realize that if we destroy our own nation's economy to save a few immigrants, we are actually doing a disservice to those people who do not come here.

    The birth rate of the third world exceeeds our capacity to save them.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 15, 2008
  3. Agnapostate
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    Nobody claimed that they ought to absorb them all, least of all me. They should only absorb as many as will result in the greatest utility maximization for all involved.
     
  4. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    No agument there. American does well bringing legal immigrants to our shores.

    And the legal immigrants we do bring on board ARE that utility maximization number.
     
  5. Agnapostate
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    I would dispute the claim that total utility maximization is brought about by the current number of immigrants that enter the country. Jeremy Bentham's system of felicific calculus defines a method of determining basic utility maximization, and even operating under the assumption that the presence of illegal immigrants was a negative factor, (the validity of which I addressed in the other thread), the intensity, duration, propinquity, fecundity, purity, and extent of the suffering inflicted upon illegal immigrants who experience deportation to poor and squalid conditions would exceed that of Americans who would suffer certain financial losses, the vast majority of them not crippling.

    Many legal immigrants who are permitted entry are permitted on the basis that the United States government is in a state of enmity with the government of their respective countries of origin and not out of any concern for their well-being or the general prospect of utility maximization. For instance, simply considering the massively different cases of Cubans approaching the southern coast a few years back and Haitians doing the same at the same time, Cubans were granted instant entry, (and still are), because of the United States' opposition to Fidel Castro, whereas Haitians were returned to Haiti because of the United States' friendliness with Duvalier.
     
  6. WillowTree
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    The United States gets to decide who is legal and who is not and for whatever reason. As do all other countries.. unless you can name a country that lets millions in without asking question??? It would be interesting..
     
  7. Agnapostate
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    Is there a reason you think that I believe that this state of ethical affairs applies only to the United States? I focus primarily on the United States because I am a citizen of the United States, and whatever little and scarce usefulness I provide is greatest there.
     
  8. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    Sophism? I'm impressed

    Until you can quantify "intensity, duration, propinquity, fecundity, purity" in some meaningful way as it applies to this issue, Jeremy Bentham's system of felicific calculus is just an interesting philosophical approach to governance.

    Some, but not a whole lot are.

    Most legal immigrants are here because they bring something to the table that we need.

    Excellent example to make your argument, but a single swallow does not a summer make.

    For years and years we objected to the Chinese Communists, but we didn't open our doors to all the Chinese who wanted in, did we?

    And we love other nations, and we still do not open the doors to every applicant of those nations, either.

    My point is there isn't the consistency of practice to suppose that we have a pattern of rational decision making on who gets in and who doesn't.

    Even if we did, that still doesn't make the case for opening the borders to every person who can reach our shores.

    I love hot dogs.

    But if I eat 200 of them in one sitting they'll still make me sick.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2008
  9. Againsheila
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    Againsheila Gold Member

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    Way back before NAFTA passed, the biggest demonstration in favor of it took place in Mexico city. The Mexicans had big signs "What are Americans afraid of".

    We KNEW NAFTA was a bad deal. Our government passed it anyway and stupid people bought that demo in mexico city so now I can't buy the idea that all those mexicans were against NAFTA. The truth is that they were in favor of it until it went into effect and did exactly what I knew it would do.

    When Clinton signed welfare reform, the biggest demonstration against that took place in Mexico city too.

    We permit more people into this country legally every year than all the other nations combined.

    Your argument doesn't hold water when it comes to the illegals who snuck in, in fact, it's quite the opposite. we've already let the 10,000 in that the shelter can handle but another 10,000 snuck in with them and now we are running out of supplies.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2008
  10. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    That bears repeating, folks.

    Few people in the world truly understand that fact, while they're lecturing we Americans about how ethnocentric we are.

    One out of eight people living in America are foreign born, not including the illegals.
     

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