Please Vote Responsibly: An Argument for Why We Have an Ethical Responsibility to Inform Ourselves Before Voting (thesis)
Piatt, Austin W.
Washington and Lee University -- Honors in Philosophy
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Thesis; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Austin W. Piatt is a member of the Class of 2017 of Washington and Lee University.. . . Given the fact that citizens living in a free and democratic state have the right to vote, this entails a civic responsibility to sufficiently inform themselves before voting or before engaging in other politically advocating action such as campaigning, fundraising, etc.; furthermore, negligent or intentional failure  to properly inform oneself prior to these actions of political advocacy is morally blameworthy. Stated briefly, we have an ethical (and civic) responsibility to inform ourselves before voting or engaging in other such actions of political advocacy. Before prescribing a solution, a firm diagnosis must be ascertained in order to fully understand the ailment. To do this, I must first establish the premise that people are not properly informed in the United States and defend it against certain objections. Second, I shall address the main philosophical concern of this venture – even if political ignorance is an extant problem, what, if any, ethical responsibility do we have to inform ourselves before voting? – and argue that centuries of political philosophy insist that we do have a responsibility to sufficiently inform ourselves before we vote and failure to achieve this is ethically blameworthy. I shall then discuss the different ways we can fulfill this responsibility in the third section of this paper, and consider some possible consequences, such as blame, individuals might face for failing to uphold this responsibility in the fourth section. I will conclude with some thoughts about how such an ethical prescription toward voting may also be applied to other actions of advocacy. [From introductory section]