Respect for outsiders? respect for the law? the moral evaluation of high scale issues by US immigration officers



High-scale morality is the study of moral ideas and sentiments deployed in relations that encompass multiple, geographically or socially distant populaces. The envisioning of distant people, their attributed moral personhood, the evaluation of their perceived behaviour, and the rectification of wrongs through the use of powerful organizations are key topics in high-scale morality. High-scale morality differs from existing anthropological approaches that emphasize local ethnography or contrastive moral ideas; it addresses the moralization of issues like world hunger, the drug trade, or international migration. The officers of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service understand and evaluate legal and illegal immigrants, as well as directly enacting moral rectification for the US polity. As they resolve moral dilemmas on their job, they utilize pervasive models for moral thought and action in capitalist, individualist, stratified, and bureaucratized societies. The article finishes by considering directions in which anthropology can contribute to understanding the moral dimension of global issues.