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Immigration and Parfit's Repugnant Conclusion

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It looks like immigration reform will eventually grant amnesty to 10 million or so people, in the process encouraging more illegal immigration.  I differ with my libertarian friends on this, I would restrict immigration to those with high skills, like what those evil Canadians do.

An essential reference for this argument is Derek Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion.  He notes that it seems inevitable ethicists will prefer billions of people barely subsisting to having a mere million people living the epitome of the good life.  That is, the chart below shows the quality of life on the y-axis, the quantity on the x. There will always be a wide and short alternative that dominates the present, and thus, in the limit we will by moral choice have 100 billion humans living like wild dogs.

 How can this be?  Well consider the following.  Say population A contains 1 million people living with an average gdp/capita of $30k/year.  Then look at A+, which has that population plus 1 million more earning $20k/year.  Clearly, A+ dominates A, because it’s just the same thing plus more people, each of whom is presumably happy to be alive.  But then, B has 2 million people making $25k/year.  This has to dominate A+, because its the same average and total prosperity, plus greater equality.  Thus, B, with more and poorer people, dominates A via transitivity.  On can extend this ad infinitum, so basically Haiti writ large dominates Iceland or anywhere.


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