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  #1  
Old 10-05-2008, 04:36 PM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

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  #2  
Old 10-05-2008, 06:43 PM
ginger baker ginger baker is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

this is silly. gosh i hope there is a deux ex machina waiting in the wings. So far what I hear is just a lot of generic complaining about how bad political discourse is.

gosh...this is going nowhere.

Look, citizenship matters, including voting, because the legitimization of the state matters. Yes, the public can be more informed and educated but the degree to which we "vote badly" is due to the constriction and trivialization of the political by a corporate culture dominated by advertising and "the private realm." Citizenship is qualitatively distinct from share-holding.
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  #3  
Old 10-05-2008, 07:44 PM
nikkibong nikkibong is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

OK, Jason Brennan may have a point. From an article in today's Los Angeles Times:

Ben and Beth Bailey sat in the back and clapped politely, but they remained unpersuaded. They said they were likely to break from their tradition of voting Democratic and might well not vote at all.

Obama "just doesn't seem like he's from America," said Beth Bailey, 25. Ben Bailey, 32, noted that Obama's middle name is Hussein, "and we know what that means."


Link: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics...,7655182.story
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  #4  
Old 10-05-2008, 09:17 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

I disagree with Will on the wedding issue.

Will argues that not showing up at the wedding would have major consequences in terms of family relationships, obligations, etc., but I don't think this would be so major in the case of a person who was consistent about her carbon footprint.

If the wedding guest said, "I'm sorry. I never fly on ethical grounds. I don't drive either, and I use only solar and wind energy for my personal needs," the family would probably understand.

It only sounds weird to us if we think of a person who normally has a huge carbon footprint and suddenly refuses to go to a wedding. Such a person would, indeed, seem like an obnoxious hypocrite.
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  #5  
Old 10-06-2008, 12:23 PM
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
I disagree with Will on the wedding issue.

Will argues that not showing up at the wedding would have major consequences in terms of family relationships, obligations, etc., but I don't think this would be so major in the case of a person who was consistent about her carbon footprint.

If the wedding guest said, "I'm sorry. I never fly on ethical grounds. I don't drive either, and I use only solar and wind energy for my personal needs," the family would probably understand.

It only sounds weird to us if we think of a person who normally has a huge carbon footprint and suddenly refuses to go to a wedding. Such a person would, indeed, seem like an obnoxious hypocrite.
That's a good point, Wonderment. If you are a genuine weirdo and your sister already knows you are a little bit insane, she won't hold it against you.
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  #6  
Old 10-06-2008, 04:27 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
That's a good point, Wonderment. If you are a genuine weirdo and your sister already knows you are a little bit insane, she won't hold it against you.
Yes, but what I'm saying is the acceptability of the excuse is not dependent on the actual consumption of fossil fuels (infinitesimal or zero). It's more about the cultural context. The "excuse" becomes acceptable to the extent that the values are respected. The sister is harmed less by the brother's absence because of the acceptability (or not) of his excuse. What favors the excuse in this case is the brother's moral consistency about such situations.

It's the same principle that applies when we proffer any excuse for our behavior. The acceptability mitigates the perception of harm (or not).

Example: "Why didn't you show up for work yesterday? We had to turn away a dozen customers because you weren't here." Excuse 1: "My mom died." Excuse 2: "I slept in."
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  #7  
Old 10-05-2008, 10:54 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Bad voting is an oxymoron

If you believe in democracy, then an election is a measurement of the feelings of the electorate. The goal of democracy is to treat this measurement with respect by allowing it, within broad limits, to define the government. The measurement is not bad. Nor are the components of that measurement -- the votes -- bad. For a true democrat, votes are sacred.

There are people who vote foolishly. But contrary to Mr. Brennan, these are the people who do NOT vote their feelings. A example of a foolish voter would be the person who says, "I am a libertarian, so I must vote for candidate A because his platform has the most libertarian elements".

To be a good voter is to do in the voting booth what makes you feel good. To be a foolish voter is to vote someone else's interest.
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  #8  
Old 10-05-2008, 11:15 PM
aleeds aleeds is offline
 
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Default Re: Bad voting is an oxymoron

thanks for the lucid argument. i agree 100%
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  #9  
Old 10-05-2008, 11:13 PM
aleeds aleeds is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

The philosophy: Where possible, one should not engage in an action that harms others if abstention requires low costs to oneself, therefore one should not vote badly.

Duh. This required a paper?

The political science: Some democratic theorists (Schumpeter, etc.) long ago pointed out that people cannot be expected to choose well between two candidates. (In case you had any doubt, the razor thin margins by which presidential elections are decided these days are clear evidence for the essential randomness of the outcomes.) Collective decision making through these kinds of voting systems really doesn't result in a meaningful choice. The exception is when an incumbent has already royally screwed up. In that case, pretty much anyone can recognize that it's time to kick the idiot out.

Schumpeter concluded that it's participation that matters, since it holds the system together by kicking disasters out of office, cycling maniacs out via term limits, and keeping politicians moderately attentive to the populace and the populace moderately loyal to politicians.

Any philosophical commentary on voting "well" or "badly" begins with a basic misunderstanding of the function of democratic systems. As a result, this paper is not only obvious in its conclusions but also irrelevant.
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  #10  
Old 10-05-2008, 11:47 PM
nikkibong nikkibong is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Day one at the Will Wilkinson School of Medicine:

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/149...3:30&out=03:38
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  #11  
Old 10-06-2008, 12:46 AM
AED AED is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

I think that Will is correct in his observation that this is paternalism, and of the first Rousseauean order. According to this view, the state does not derive its legitimacy from the expressed will of the governed, but from some idealized version of that will which can only be achieved once the governed have been properly educated to agree with the opinions of self-declared sages. Why have a democracy at all if the will of the people is not innately valuable, but only valuable insofar as it conforms to the opinion of a wise (and evidently arrogant) elite?
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  #12  
Old 10-06-2008, 04:45 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

I salute Jason for being honest enough to point out the fatal flaw of his own theory -- that those more likely to think of themselves as "unqualified" to vote in fact tend to be better informed, and vice versa -- but then I wonder why he would bother to write a paper on this theory.

I guess it's just my taste, but I don't understand what motivates a smart person to spend time thinking about something that not only has no practical application, but worse, directly contradicts the way the world works. I grant that, in the abstract, it can be useful to toss out assumptions and set aside evidence to see what a fresh look might yield, but in this case, I just don't see where there would have been any hope of obtaining anything worthwhile from this exercise.
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  #13  
Old 10-06-2008, 04:52 AM
laurelnyc laurelnyc is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Mmm...I've just begun this diavlog and I must admit that I'm truly loving the eye candy so far ;-)
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  #14  
Old 10-06-2008, 08:46 AM
bkjazfan bkjazfan is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Hmmmm! Utility, tautology, rational positivism or whatever you call it. With only an intro class in philosphy 40 years ago I am not prepared for these discussions.

John
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  #15  
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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  #16  
Old 10-06-2008, 02:46 PM
qwerty qwerty is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

I wonder if a wide spread public sentiment that ignorant voting is not acceptable would be effective in eliminating ignorant voting. We could even eliminate the secret ballot so that a person would have to be prepared to defend his or her vote at any moment or risk looking foolish. My guess is that, on average, this would lead to a worse society where folks with minority political opinions would be ostracized. In an ideal world people would be accepting of differing view points provided they were will informed, but I can't see that happening in practice.
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  #17  
Old 10-06-2008, 03:00 PM
Uhurusasa Uhurusasa is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

i am fond of saying that "there is nothing worst than a squeaky-clean nut".

if my choice is between a chain-saw murderer and a scholar, i say,lets build up the academy and keep those papers coming!!

what about the academy as a gated-community!!

Last edited by Uhurusasa; 10-06-2008 at 03:08 PM..
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  #18  
Old 10-06-2008, 06:05 PM
laurelnyc laurelnyc is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

So what about the lesser of two evil argument that so many people seem to follow when voting? If one has serious doubts about both major candidates running (i.e. Obama & McCain) should one refuse to cast a vote or should one compromise?

I truly believe that both Obama and McCain will be terrible for the country, and I still haven't decided whether to cast a vote. The other candidates running are too extreme for my taste...I've discovered this election season that I'm essentially a centrist moderate. My vote doesn't matter much since I live in NY, which will go Dem regardless of my vote. If, on the other hand, I lived in a swing state where my vote mattered, how should I make a decision about whether to vote when I believe both to be terrible choices?

This is why I hate the major two-party system. It's time for a strong Independent party.
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  #19  
Old 10-06-2008, 06:12 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by laurelnyc View Post
So what about the lesser of two evil argument that so many people seem to follow when voting? If one has serious doubts about both major candidates running (i.e. Obama & McCain) should one refuse to cast a vote or should one compromise?

I truly believe that both Obama and McCain will be terrible for the country, and I still haven't decided whether to cast a vote. The other candidates running are too extreme for my taste...I've discovered this election season that I'm essentially a centrist moderate. My vote doesn't matter much since I live in NY, which will go Dem regardless of my vote. If, on the other hand, I lived in a swing state where my vote mattered, how should I make a decision about whether to vote when I believe both to be terrible choices?
Somebody's going to win an election. Not voting won't change that. Even if you don't like your choices, one of them is probably, from your perspective, better than the other. So you would still be voting for the net good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laurelnyc View Post
This is why I hate the major two-party system. It's time for a strong Independent party.
Sorry, but I can't resist. What would they call themselves? The OxyMorons?
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  #20  
Old 10-06-2008, 08:25 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
Sorry, but I can't resist. What would they call themselves? The OxyMorons?
Boy! How evil can that be?

You don't understand. The new Independent party would be able to please every possible taste and preference in political action. Each voter would cast a wish together with their vote. And all wishes would be granted. Politicians actually wouldn't have a whole lot to do, except resolve the contradictions emerging from opposite wishes. There are all kinds of interesting situations that could develop and make political life really entertaining.

Be creative!
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  #21  
Old 10-06-2008, 09:12 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
Sorry, but I can't resist. What would they call themselves? The OxyMorons?
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  #22  
Old 10-08-2008, 05:06 AM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
Sorry, but I can't resist. What would they call themselves? The OxyMorons?
That's very funny.

One of the peculiar features of American democracy, from a European point of view, is the way the two parties shade off into each other near the middle, leaving very little room for clear policy differences, and leaving far too much room for so-called "cultural" issues. Is this the result of history or institutions or both?

Not being an expert on American politics, I have often wondered if the disproportionate representation of small states in the Senate (mainly western and southern) doesn't skew American politics to the values of the relatively uneducated, uninformed electorate of small towns and rural areas. There is something absurd about a system that gives Wyoming and Idaho as much power in the Senate as New York and California. Hence perhaps a tendency of political parties to do everything to blur differences in the interest of national unity?

This is more a question than a statement.
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  #23  
Old 10-06-2008, 09:10 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by laurelnyc View Post
This is why I hate the major two-party system. It's time for a strong Independent party.
How are we going to get a strong independent party if we have a two party system? The fact that we have a two party system precludes the possibility of a strong independent party.

I'm curious, how would you propose to do away with our two-party system? And do you know why we have a two-party system?
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  #24  
Old 10-06-2008, 11:32 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by laurelnyc View Post
My vote doesn't matter much since I live in NY, which will go Dem regardless of my vote.
Always worth keeping in mind the rest of the "down-ticket" votes you have to cast on Election Day. Do you like or dislike your Congressperson, for example?

Quote:
If, on the other hand, I lived in a swing state where my vote mattered, how should I make a decision about whether to vote when I believe both to be terrible choices?
The way I have done this in the past when I found both candidates equal to first approximation was to consider which issues mattered most to me, and then look to see which one had a better (less bad) agreement with me on those issues. It's easy to do this in the case of Obama and McCain, it seems to me -- they are quite different in their views on a number of important issues. For example, if pro-choice/pro-life considerations matter to you, there's an obvious one. Consider the president's authority to appoint federal judges.

If that doesn't matter so much to you, consider health care. One candidate wants to implement health care for all, the other wants to move away from it so radically that he's now talking about dismantling Medicare and Medicaid.

What about energy and the environment? One candidate prioritizes alternative sources of energy, the other prioritizes increased drilling for oil and gas.

What about tax policy? One candidate wants to do away with the Bush tax cuts for the rich, the other wants to make them permanent.

Want more?
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Last edited by bjkeefe; 10-06-2008 at 11:34 PM..
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  #25  
Old 10-06-2008, 11:42 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Always worth keeping in mind the rest of the "down-ticket" votes you have to cast on Election Day. Do you like or dislike your Congressperson, for example?



The way I have done this in the past when I found both candidates equal to first approximation was to consider which issues mattered most to me, and then look to see which one had a better (less bad) agreement with me on those issues. It's easy to do this in the case of Obama and McCain, it seems to me -- they are quite different in their views on a number of important issues. For example, if pro-choice/pro-life considerations matter to you, there's an obvious one. Consider the president's authority to appoint federal judges.

If that doesn't matter so much to you, consider health care. One candidate wants to implement health care for all, the other wants to move away from it so radically that he's now talking about dismantling Medicare and Medicaid.

What about energy and the environment? One candidate prioritizes alternative sources of energy, the other prioritizes increased drilling for oil and gas.

What about tax policy? One candidate wants to do away with the Bush tax cuts for the rich, the other wants to make them permanent.

Want more?
Good post, and a good series of questions. It definitely does seem that by thinking things through as you suggest, Laurel should be able to pick one candidate over the other. And if he can't, I would be interested to hear elaboration on the reasons why she feels both are "terrible" choices.

Since I have started studying more about the American political system, one of the things about it I find most disturbing is its regional nature. It's bad enough, I think, that we have a two party system, but when you add on top of that the historical fact that each party tends to dominate politics within its region, the actual input of any given voter into the final outcome is extremely limited. (Nonexistent?) I do understand the frustration a Democrat might feel living in Utah, or a Republican living in New York. My own feeling is that we'd be much better off with a multi-party system with proportional representation, so that a vote in Mississippi for a Democrat would still actually count.
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  #26  
Old 10-06-2008, 11:48 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
My own feeling is that we'd be much better off with a multi-party system with proportional representation, so that a vote in Mississippi for a Democrat would still actually count.
Each system, two-party or multi-party, has its own advantages and problems. There are even interesting combinations. What makes you think a multi-party system would be better in this country? People here can't decide between two...
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  #27  
Old 10-07-2008, 12:11 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Each system, two-party or multi-party, has its own advantages and problems. There are even interesting combinations. What makes you think a multi-party system would be better in this country? People here can't decide between two...
Gosh, I'll admit, that's a tough question. I guess my main concerns about the two party system are that (1) change is very slow, and (2) there is no representation for voices that are outside the mainstream. Since both parties have to compete for a majority of the vote, there's always pressure exerted towards the center, and all other viewpoints are marginalized. It's actually a subject I'd like to learn more about. I wish BHTV would do more with political philosophy or political theory.
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  #28  
Old 10-07-2008, 12:25 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
Gosh, I'll admit, that's a tough question. I guess my main concerns about the two party system are that (1) change is very slow, and (2) there is no representation for voices that are outside the mainstream. Since both parties have to compete for a majority of the vote, there's always pressure exerted towards the center, and all other viewpoints are marginalized. It's actually a subject I'd like to learn more about. I wish BHTV would do more with political philosophy or political theory.
Yes, it would be good to learn about this. I think the role of a political party should be discussed, and reviewed. Democracy has some paradoxical dilemmas built in. The way the political parties have been behaving, is such that they seem to be governing for the polls. If the parties are going to engage in "direct" democracy, there must be better ways than polls. Or political parties could fully embrace the role of representative democracy and lead. I don't have a clear idea what the current system tries to be, in practice.
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  #29  
Old 10-08-2008, 08:38 AM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Free Will: In Defense of Not Voting

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
there's always pressure exerted towards the center, and all other viewpoints are marginalized.
This is the great advantage of the American political system. You might think about what it would mean to have an elected government that does not represent the center. President Huckabee, anyone?
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  #30  
Old 10-08-2008, 11:35 PM
benjy benjy is offline
 
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Default Gives new meaning to the word academic...

Could this be any less important? Anyone who shouldn't be voting is PROBABLY not going to be reading the guy's book, now are they? Are we going to start a national dialogue about why people shouldn't vote? Some of its interesting in an abstract philosophical way, but maybe the interlocutors could have shown a slight sense in the discussion that it will have no effect on the actual world... And come on guys, its not that hard to understand something like fairness for example--even if you don't know all the details of economic theory, you can feel its more fair for everyone to get to go to a decent school, have health care, etc., and that those who do best in the economy should help those who aren't doing as well to have better opportunities, etc.... You can argue either side of this, and I won't bother to make the arguments here, but you don't need to know all the technical details of economic policy to take sides on the issue. Its really more a moral question than a technical one... And those with more education don't always look out for those who have less. Basically what we have in politics, Sarah Palin aside, is specialization like we have in every area. Policy makers should and generally do know somewhat more about policy and how to achieve certain goals than the average person does, and they're supposed to use that expertise to effect the outcomes that people want, within the bounds of rights of the minority, etc... And yes, of course there are a lot of ways to promote the public good--just think of life without great music, literature, art, blogs, food production....I don't think liberals dispute this...

One comment was good though--its certainly true that people like to think they know more than do, as though the correct answer to factual questions actually depends on what they think about it, not that they have to do a lot of work, and have some ability, to figure out or get closer to the answer.

Last edited by benjy; 10-09-2008 at 11:25 AM..
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