Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Jason Brennan, Philosopher" has published a "controversial" book, The Ethics of Voting, with Princeton University Press. He's blurbed himself on their blog. The post's title: "Most People Shouldn’t Vote"
Brian Leiter links: "Shame on you for voting! Jason Brennan (Georgetown) comments."

My comment
"the best available evidence indicates that most voters mean well, but are politically incompetent."

Who defines competence? Are bankers competent? Were men 100 years ago, or even 40, or even now, "competent" at speaking to women's questions? Were and are whites competent to speak for blacks, gentiles for Jews, Jews to Palestinians, straight to gay, rich to poor? But I think the last is the only one you'd claim to be addressing.

Then there's the history of idiots with PhD's, for example in economics. Our recent disasters are the result of corrupt leadership and popular passivity, and more of the latter will give us more of the former. But this is what you offer. Maybe we should limit the franchise to people who deal with the concrete rather than than the abstract. Maybe we should ban philosophers and mathematicians (and poets) from political participation.

If the uneducated poor could put a damper on the grand schemes of the powerful, I'd be all for it. As it is, the poor get steamrolled. Its true that democracy and representative government require an educated populace, but your response seems more to justify the fact that we've failed to ensure one.

"There’s nothing morally wrong with being ignorant about politics."
Yes, in a democracy there is something wrong with willed ignorance. It's a betrayal of responsibility. But you've demonstrated it yourself. Your arguments are clearly self-serving, and it's only freedom to participate that allows others not in your position to mock you for it.
What a fucking idiot. And Leiter links. "Georgetown!"

Foreign Policy: "The Next Proxy War. How the United States can use the Syrian civil war to prepare the region -- for Iran"

I linked to the above in a second  comment on Brennan's post.
"The author at the very least is irresponsible. I’d call him dangerously incompetent.
What should we do?"
It hasn't been published.

Read the comments at FP. They're a trip.

Another comment on the Princeton blog, which may or may not make it. [it did]
Still nothing about who judges and how. That's the first question to answer before we get to any other. Who defines what is and is not "epistemically well-grounded"
What did the American majority think of Quaker Pacifists in 1942, or Communists in 1955? Has anyone here read King's letter from Birmingham jail?

And if we can limit voting, why not limit speech as well, if we deem it "politically irresponsible". Only one mention of Socrates so far. I'm sure he'd agree with those troubled that Jon Stewart has as much authority as he does.

As to the rest:
Money in politics is not limited to money in elections. Berlusconi's money is well spent as far as his interests are concerned. If you're prime minister it helps to be in control of most of the major media outlets in your country, and if you're in control of most of the major media outlets in your country, it certainly helps to be prime minister.

There's also a major misunderstanding about voting itself and its role in a democracy. Voting is not about trying to get what you want; it's not concerned first with individual choice, but with marking collective change. People who argue against voting because their interests will be diluted should also divorce themselves from politics altogether even in casual conversation. Voting is no more than one point in time in our collective debate. Whatever individualists may want to believe, society situates the individual, not the other way around. Practice precedes theory; Sophocles did not read Aristotle.

To strengthen our republic, strengthen general education. The system in this country is terrible. Evidence of that is as much here as in any urban high school.

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