Bryan Caplan: Three More Challenges To Sailerian Citizenism

Last week, Bryan Caplan dredged up an old analogy I had drawn to launch an attack on my notion of citizenism. Bryan wrote:

If you think you`re often morally obligated to suppress the favoritism you naturally feel for your children, why aren`t you morally obligated to suppress the far milder favoritism you naturally feel for your fellow citizens?

This, by the way, is why I emphasize the notion of the half-full (and thus also half-empty) glass so often. If “you`re often morally obligated to suppress the favoritism you naturally feel,” you`re often not morally obligated to suppress the favoritism you feel. Thus, for example, it`s not morally right for America to invade Canada, but it`s also not morally wrong for America to keep Mexicans from invading America.

This idea that the glass tends to be part-full and part-empty at the same time isn`t some novel insight of mine. Aristotle, for instance, liked to point out that life is full of trade-offs, perfection is unlikely, and the best you can do is some kind of optimum. (Confucius said something like this, too.)

But, I`m a notorious extremist, always going around citing Aristotle, Benjamin Franklin, the Preamble of the Constitution, George Washington`s Farewell Address, and other fringe crackpots.

Last week, Bryan got rather badly schooled in his comments section. Now, he`s back with three more posts