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April 19, 2010



Worst footnote ever. Political and civil rights *shouldn't* have to come with duties attached - feature, not bug.

As for your argument for nobly abstaining from voting on the grounds of ignorance, that will only have the desired effect if the number n of voters likely to vote (V) who are better informed than yours (i>i(CD)) is already greater than the number likely to vote who are less well-informed than you. If the reverse is true, then by choosing to vote you would actually be raising the overall knowledge-base of the electorate.


"than you", not "than yours"

Mike Woodhouse

If the powers-that-be really thought that voting was such a good idea, you'd think we'd get more opportunities to do so. But we don't, so perhaps they don't.

Neil Harding

Chris - You say you will not vote because you do not know enough - but to leave it to others who know even less is hardly sensible. You are abdicating responsibility and when people do that, all sorts of extremists can win power. The higher the apathy, the more likely we are to see a higher level of unaccountability from our government. That is much more dangerous than voting for someone you are not sure about.

Chris Purnell

Whatever happened to your love affair with "The Wisdom of Crowds"? Was it unrequited?

Churm Rincewind

I'm not sure what is meant by the reference to the Give Your Vote Campaign - is the suggestion that people in (say) Ghana, though no doubt less fortunate than citizens of the UK in many ways, are for some reason inevitably less arrogant, less ignorant, and less greedy when they come to vote?


I agree totally with your questioning of that strand of (vulgar) libertarianism. I just wish more libertarians would understand and state it more often...

On the broader point - have you read Brian Caplan's 'Myth of the Rational Voter'. He examines the biases which voters have very well.

chris c

"Worst footnote ever. Political and civil rights *shouldn't* have to come with duties attached - feature, not bug."

It's called the social contract. Political and civil rights have to come with duties attached. Without the duties required from good citizens, we wouldn't have the politics or the society in the first place.

alanm crisps

If you charged people to vote you would weed out those who are less informed* and reduce the budget deficit.

*People who don't even know which party is in power might prefer the tenner in their pockets.

P.S I take it you are less than optimistic about Cameron's local referenda?

bella gerens

How, precisely, were medieval peasants not free, in any meaningful sense? Excepting serfs, they were no less free then than we are today. A terrible quality of life does not preclude freedom. Unless it does. As I mention in the post you've linked to.


Chris - I like a bit of Hobbes myself, but the idea of a social contract that integrates duties with rights falls apart once you start to specify it in detail. If voting is a right, what specific duties are associated with it? Does abstaining from voting release you from those duties, and if not what would? On the other hand, if obeying the law is a duty, what rights does it confer? Has someone who parks on a double yellow line forfeited their rights to the same extent as a murderer, and if not why not? Or are there a whole range of rights of ascending importance which should be forfeited when you break laws of ascending importance - and if so, why doesn't the law actually work like that? It all gets quite pre-Copernican quite quickly.

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