Don’t Vote?

Philosopher Jason Brennan gives us a thought exercise concerning voting:

Imagine 12 people are serving on a jury in a murder case. The prosecution and defense present evidence and call witnesses. The court asks the jury to reach a verdict. They find the defendant guilty.

Suppose four of the jurors paid no attention during the trial. When asked to deliberate, they were ignorant of the details of the case. They decided more or less at random.

Suppose four of the jurors paid some attention to the evidence. However, they found the defendant guilty not on the basis of the evidence, but on wishful thinking and on bizarre conspiracy theories they happen to believe.

Suppose four of the jurors paid attention to the evidence. However, they found the defendant guilty because he is an atheist, while they are Christians. Like many Americans, the jurors trust atheists no more than they trust rapists.

Do read the whole thing to find out why voting in a mass democracy is not necessarily something that should be automatically assumed to be good (or to go to war over, for that matter).

Co-blogger Warren Gibson has a great take on voting as well.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Vote?”

  1. A valid point point. However there is no better alternative. Say for example we abolished the democratic decision in favour of rule by a judge. That judge is just as susceptible to bias and prejudice. The judge could likewise be lazy and ignore the the trial. In fact the judge is more likely to be flawed as their is only one of him/her whereas as least in democracy there is a better chance of the intelligent counterbalancing the ignorant.

    1. In fact the judge is more likely to be flawed as their is only one of him/her whereas as least in democracy there is a better chance of the intelligent counterbalancing the ignorant.

      Intelligence has nothing to do with ignorance, and judges don’t make laws; they only enforce and interpret them on a case-by-case basis.

Please keep it civil (unless it relates to Jacques)

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