Election Argument Summary

October 22, 2008 § 8 Comments

1) Murdering the innocent is the singular act which is most radically opposed to the common good, so much so that when sanctioned by authority it undercuts the very foundation of legitimate authority (see Evangelium Vitae);

2) Elections are a civic ritual in which we express our submission to legitimate authority and co-responsibility for the common good (see the Catechism);

3) Because of the radical opposition between (1) and (2), there is always some harm done to the person and those around him in voting for a candidate who supports murdering the innocent;  [Update 10-20-2012: I have elaborated on at least one of these harms here.]

4) This harm far, far outweighs any influence one’s vote has over the outcome in national elections, because in national elections one’s influence is very, very small;

5) As votes aggregate in influence over the outcome, the far more significant outcome-independent harm also aggregates in influence;

6) Therefore the outcome-independent harm in voting for a national candidate who supports murdering the innocent always far outweighs any concomitant influence over the outcome;

So there is no proportionate reason to vote for a national candidate who supports murdering the innocent in circumstances like ours.

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§ 8 Responses to Election Argument Summary

  • Tom says:

    Er… well, again, a growing number of American bishops are explicitly teaching the contrary.

  • zippy says:

    Er … yes, and again I don’t doubt that they are doing so based on sounds principles of licit material cooperation in evil layered over the conventional mythology of elections and voting.

  • smockmomma says:

    poor biden. can you imagine the mental gymnastics involved there?

  • Zippy,Thanks for laying out your argument. It seems to me that (3) does not follow from (1) and (2). And if you don’t intend (3) to follow from (1) and (2), then (3) doesn’t stand on its own. That is, I don’t see the reason to believe (3) to be true. Is there a sub-argument you have that shows (3) to be true?In the peace of Christ,- Bryan

  • Karl says:

    I have made a < HREF="http://www.conservativedonnybrook.com/2008/12/09/third-parties-and-damnation/" REL="nofollow">similar argument <> on my own site albeit less succinctly. I would be interested to know your position when it comes to voting third party. I have tried to make the case that voting for an untenable third party, with the likely outcome that the pro-abortion candidate would win as a result, is tantamount to material cooperation.

  • zippy says:

    Karl, I don’t agree that voting is <>necessarily<> a form of formal cooperation with the policies of the candidate. See my < HREF="http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2008/11/remote-material-controversy.html" REL="nofollow">post here<>, for example, and < HREF="http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2008/11/gravity-makes-world-go-around-nfp-and.html" REL="nofollow">this follow-up<>.When it comes to voting in national elections, I think our personal < HREF="http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2008/11/size-does-matter.html" REL="nofollow">influence over outcomes<> is so infinitesimal that the entire moral evaluation of the act rests on (1) outcome-independent effects from voting, and (2) intentions. Proportionate reasons with respect to (1) will dominate any truly rational evaluation of the act, that is, will determine what constitutes an objectively right intention with respect to voting. And it seems to me that voting for a major party candidate has no advantage over voting for a third-party candidate in terms of the outcome-independent effects of the act; indeed, the whole business about major party versus third party has to do with choosing <>this<> outcome over <>that<>, and is thus morally irrelevant. So it is probably objectively better, in Presidential elections at least, to vote for a better third party candidate or even to abstain completely rather than voting for a ‘lesser of two evils’ major party candidate who actively supports some policies of murdering the innocent.

  • [...] the effect you have on the outcome is literally negligible, the particular outcome you prefer cannot be invoked as proportionate reason to materially cooperate with grave evil, especially when that grave evil is some form of murdering the innocent.  I’ve suggested [...]

  • [...] harm of voting irrationally obtains whether or not Romney wins: outcome-independent harm.  So the rest follows.  Voting pragmatically (as opposed to acting in a principled/idealistic way) with reference to the [...]

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