Debate: Why Does the Excellent Citizen Vote?

Journal of Political Philosophy 24 (2):245-257 (2015)
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Is it morally important to vote? It is common to think so, but both consequentialist and deontological strategies for defending that intuition are weak. In response, some theorists have turned to a role-based strategy, arguing that it is morally important to be an excellent citizen, and that excellent citizens vote. But there is a lingering puzzle: an individual vote changes very little (virtually nothing in large-scale elections), so why would the excellent citizen be so concerned to cast a ballot? Why bother with something that has so little effect on the common good? This paper answers by developing the idea of respect for a practice, and then arguing that respect for democracy will often require citizens to vote.

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Luke Maring
Northern Arizona University


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