Political persuasion is prima facie disrespectful

Journal of Moral Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Political persuasion can express moral respect. In this article, however, I rely on two psychological assumptions to argue that political persuasion is generally prima facie disrespectful: (1) that we maintain our political beliefs largely for non-epistemic, personal reasons and (2) that our political beliefs are connected to our epistemic esteem. Given those assumptions, a persuader can either ignore the relevant personal reasons, explicitly address them, or implicitly address them. Ignoring those reasons, I argue, constitutes prima facie insensitivity. Explicitly addressing them constitutes a form of prima facie incivility. Finally, implicitly addressing them covertly treats those personal reasons as psychological puppet strings, constituting prima facie objectionable manipulation. This prima facie insensitivity, incivility, and manipulation are each prima facie failures of respect, either for the persuadee’s rationality or for their agency. Political persuasion can sometimes be all-things-considered justified, but these moral hazards can produce reasonable guilt, resentment, and blowback.

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Colin Marshall
University of Washington


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