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Good Faith & Politics

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While it is tempting to think of politics as the art of lying, I contend that it requires good faith honesty. This is based on my very conventional pragmatic political philosophy. As would be expected, I accept that the legitimacy of the state rests on the consent of the governed; thinkers like Locke and Hobbes have advanced better arguments than I can provide in support of this view. When it comes to consent, I agree with Socrates’ remarks in the Crito. For a person to consent to the rule of the state, they can neither be deceived nor coerced.  People must also have the opportunity to provide this consent; in a democracy (or republic) one means of providing consent is by voting—which is why easy and secure voting is essential to the political legitimacy of a democratic state. Lying in politics can thus undermine legitimacy—if people make decisions based on lies, then they are not providing true consent. After all, their decision might very well change if they knew the truth. For example, consider the election lies advanced by Trump and his followers. While many people are going along with what they know is a lie (thus they are providing consent), there are presumably some people who are supporting the new voter restrictions only because they believe the election lies. If they knew the truth, these people would not consent to them. The obvious counter is to argue that all that matters in politics is winning. While this does have some appeal if one is a realist, it is also to explicitly reject the notion that legitimacy depends on the consent of the governed. Which is something many Republicans seem to have done. Like Locke and many other thinkers, I also subscribe to majority rule. Once again, I defer to the arguments offered by Locke and thinkers superior to me. Because of concerns about tyranny and oppression, I also accept the notion of rights against the state aimed at protecting people from the dangers of majority rule. Naturally, I also largely agree with. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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