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Why there is a moral duty to vote

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In recent years, democracies around the world have witnessed the steady rise of anti-liberal, populist movements. In the face of this trend, some may think it apposite to question the power of elections to protect cherished democratic values. Among some (vocal) political scientists and philosophers today, it is common to hear concern about voter incompetence, which allegedly explains why democracy stands on shaky ground in many places.Do we do well in thinking of voting as a likely threat to fair governance? But voting is a vehicle for justice, not a paradoxical menace tbeo democracy. Two questions: Do people have a duty to vote, and if so, do they have a duty to vote with care?  We can see voting as an act of justice in the light of a Samaritan duty of aid towards society. We have a duty of conscience to vote with care; with information and a sense of the common good, in order to help our fellow-citizens prevent injustice and ensure decently good governance. The latter can be achieved, if voters manage to elect acceptably fair-minded governments and vote out corrupt or inept ones. Voting governments in and out is not all there is to justice, but voting is a basic democratic act because elections install governments. Governments, in turn, enact policies that can have an immense influence on people’s access to primary goods like security, peace, economic stability, education, healthcare, and others. In short, governments can foster or impede justice in ways that very few other entities can.In particular, three of the most important assumptions that critics of a putative duty to vote make are that: 1) citizens’ political knowledge is almost impossible to improve, 2) voting cannot be a matter of duty because its individual costs are higher than its individual benefits 3) if we care about the common good, we can do other things besides participating in politics, many of which will be more effective than casting a vote in large elections.  To these objections, I offer. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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