Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The morality of voting.

I'll cast my vote soon.

Libertarians are quite fond of pointing out that your vote really does not make a difference. The conclusion they tend to draw is that you shouldn't vote, or at least that you're wasting your time.

I don't think the conclusion follows even though it's true that your vote doesn't make a difference. I'm surprised by this attitude because of its explicit reliance on utilitarian ethics. They do this calculation, basically multiplying the odds of your vote making a difference by the good effects enjoyed if it did. The thing though is that people, and many libertarians in particular, are not utilitarians. We're generally not encouraged to do a cost benefit analysis when considering whether to lie or steal. Lying and stealing are wrong, the reason they're wrong could be given that it leads to good outcomes in the future, but this is a rule of thumb cos we can't know the exact effects of our actions.

So I'd expect more people to take this line with voting. We expect people to follow the general rule of voting cos in the long run that's what will have good consequences.

I might not fully sign up for that, but maybe a rule along the lines that voting is good if you're informed. A rule which I am about to violate.

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