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Old 10-06-2008, 09:18 AM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

The last segment of the dialogue puzzled me. If any significant social, cultural or economic activity is to count as an exercise in "civic virtue" because it contributes to or enhances the "common good," what is the point of talking about "civic" virtue (civis=citizen)? Generally we qualify a noun in order to make a distinction of some kind, but here the qualifier seems to englobe everything. Indeed what is the point of talking about the "common good" (=res publica), if all goods, even those enjoyed privately (such as an artificial heart or the Sistine Chapel) are in reality so many public goods?

I am willing to admit that great artists and other benefactors of mankind are praiseworthy for all sorts of reasons, but I don't quite see why we should consider them worthy of being called exemplary citizens. This may sound like a quibble, but since the dialogue consisted mainly of quibbles about good and bad citizens, I don't think it is totally out of place. In a country like the USA where so many "citizens" abstain from showing any civic virtue (such as turning off the TV long enough to go vote once every four years...), it seems to me that a more restrictive definition of civic virtue might be useful.
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