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Ethics and the ballot box

Ethics and the ballot box

At the “art of theory” blog, Jason Brennan says it’s not enough just to vote; that in fact, voting in the absence of knowledge or without an ethical fundamentum is a deeply moral problem that can do far more harm than good. Moreover, “How other people vote is my business. After all, they make it my business.”

We would never say to everyone, “Who cares if you know anything about surgery or medicine? The important thing is that you make your cut.” Yet for some reason, we do say, “It doesn’t matter if you know much about politics. The important thing is to vote.” In both cases, incompetent decision-making can hurt innocent people.

Commonsense morality tells us to treat the two cases differently. Commonsense morality is wrong …

… voters should vote on the basis of sound evidence. They must put in heavy work to make sure their reasons for voting as they do are morally and epistemically justified. In general, they must vote for the common good rather than for narrow self-interest. Citizens who are unwilling or unable to put in the hard work of becoming good voters should not vote at all. They should stay home on election day rather than pollute the polls with their bad votes.

More at the link.

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