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The Ethics of Voting Paperback – April 29, 2012
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"[Brennan's] relentless focus on the problem of 'wrongful voting' pays off. . . . [His] argument lodges a serious objection to research in political science and behavioral economics suggesting that even lazy voters can use shortcuts to vote well."--Josh Rothman, Boston Globe
"The real value of books such as this lies in their potential to raise the level of public debate. . . . Brennan's argument is detailed and searching, which means that it presents a challenge to anyone prepared to take it seriously."--Alan Haworth, Philosopher's Magazine
"Brennan advances the extraordinarily provocative argument that the sine qua non of civic virtue is not political participation (especially not voting) but the moral duty to promote the common good. . . . Students will appreciate Brennan's highly instructive exercise in argumentation. He constructs cogent justifications for his conceptual framework, outlines reasons for rejecting contrary views, and meets plausible objections to his own formulation."--Choice
"The Ethics of Voting . . . offers a set of provocative and tightly-argued claims. It also changes the way scholars across the social sciences and humanities might want to ask questions about voting. . . . Jason Brennan has written a short, accessible, and tight book that deserves a place on scholars bookshelves."--Art Carden, Public Choice
From the Back Cover
"Jason Brennan's surprising investigation of the ethics of voting grapples with some of the most entrenched dogmas in our political culture. . . . His conclusions will shake some readers up, and our thinking about democracy will be better for the debates that are sure to ensue."--David Estlund, Brown University
"This is a fascinating book about a very important topic. . . . The Ethics of Voting abounds in interesting claims and good arguments with often surprising conclusions. Beautifully clear and eminently readable, it will be noticed."--Geoffrey Brennan, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"Brennan's book is provocative in the best sense of the word--a fresh and challenging approach to important matters in political theory and political ethics."--Richard Dagger, University of Richmond
Top Customer Reviews
I found very frustrating the author's underlying assumption that there is one good way of voting and that voters can discover it by informing themselves of their choices and especially the consequences of those choices. However, the world is very complicated, and there are legitimate disagreements as to the impacts of various policies. What does the ethical voter do in these cases? Further, what does the ethical voter do when the choice is between candidates, some of whose policies seem desirable and some undesirable? The author is silent on this.
I said that almost all of the book can be boiled down to this. The last chapter summarizes a number of empirical studies, trying to estimate just how well or ill-informed the typical voter is. I found this chapter to be very interesting. Unfortunately, it amounts to 17 pages out of a 180-page book. The reader looking for a more comprehensive treatment should go to any of a number of other books, e.g. Bryan Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter, which I recommend hands down over this book.
I rate it two stars for lay persons like me. If I were a professional philosopher, I would no doubt give it more.
He then proceeds: "Academics and other educated people often are caught up in intellectual fads. They accept doctrines because they are popular or seem intriguing, not because there is good evidence in support of them."
After elaborating on this thought, in a brief moment of rare humility, he admits: "Presumably this applies to me too. Perhaps I should not vote."
I bought this book expecting the quality of work Princeton University Press usually produces, and the endorsement on the back by David Estlund about his quality of argumentation was also impressive.
It turns out, though, that Brennan was right in his brief moment of humility. All of these negative qualities do apply to his own book. The more I read it, the more I started to feel like I was talking to a representative from the tobacco industry (e.g., Malcolm Gladwell), who was being faddish, claiming a thesis only because it sounds sexy, and using a style of pretentious writing to obscure a massive lack of substance. What makes it so pretentious is that he routinely cites empirical research to give his work a sense of rigor that it actually massively lacks. A vast amount of the argumentation is the result of silly intuitions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If 51 senators are needed to vote to save the republic, every one of those votes are as vital as the last one cast. Read morePublished on April 13, 2013 by stuart bugg
I didn't much like this book. For a start the use of the female third person pronoun all the time was just as annoying as the use of the male third person pronoun all the time! Read morePublished on March 23, 2013 by Janet Reynolds