The ethics of not voting

This new book, The Ethics of Voting, by Jason Brennan, looks tailor-made for our blog. I’ve just ordered a copy, but as advanced publicity for it, here’s a quick shout-out.

In democratic theory we rightly pay a lot of attention to the design of the system — especially the electoral system and campaign finance. And we pay some attention (as Bethany and Justin have in posts here and here) to the obligations of professional political actors. But what about the obligations of those other participants in the democratic system, the citizens and voters?

As the blurb says:

Nothing is more integral to democracy than voting. Most people believe that every citizen has the civic duty or moral obligation to vote, that any sincere vote is morally acceptable, and that buying, selling, or trading votes is inherently wrong. In this provocative book, Jason Brennan challenges our fundamental assumptions about voting, revealing why it is not a duty for most citizens–in fact, he argues, many people owe it to the rest of us not to vote.

Somebody had to say it. Amen.

3 responses to “The ethics of not voting

  1. I thought this was great! Most of my research in the Adversarial Ethics has been into the role of primaries and politics as an adversarial institution. I never really thought of the role of the voter on the other side of this equation as a player in the game of politics.

  2. This post discussed an issue that I have been struggling with myself. We place so much emphasis on the major players, the candidates, but what about the people who are usually on the bench, the voters. Ultimately, the voters have the most power is the results of candidacy. Shouldn’t ethical conversations be directed to voters as well? Does it matter if voters “cheat? ” In asking this question, I am also forced to acknowledge that citizens (also players), control the voting sites. Admittedly, there are certain regulations at voting sites, and those citizens should follow those specified rules. We have certain expectations and solidified obligations for political actors, but what are the expectations and obligations for the “minor league” players?

  3. Michael Enright interviewed him on the Sunday Edition several weeks ago. Very fun interview.

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