Friday, June 27, 2008

the average voter

Scott Hagaman has an interesting post on the average voter - the most interesting part is a quote from Caplan

The average voter is an irrational nutjob when it comes to her political beliefs. Caplan also provides a plausible explanation for this. Having irrational political beliefs doesn't cost the average voter much. If you have irrational beliefs about how your wife treats other men in your bedroom, you stand to lose quite a bit. But holding the irrational belief that McCain is fit for public office doesn't cost people very much (unless, perhaps, all their friends are rational). As Caplan puts it:

In a sense, then, there is a method to the average voter’s madness. Even when his views are completely wrong, he gets the psychological benefit of emotionally appealing political beliefs at a bargain price. No wonder he buys in bulk.

Sadly true....

he then says
This will, for a variety of reasons, call into question Schwitzgebel's overcommon assumption - which I find absolutely absurd - that voting is a duty. But I suspect he disagrees with several of the claims I've made.

I think, not to put words in his mouth, Eric would actually agree that voters are irrational in this sense. Just for the purposes of his experiment he is willing to package being informed/uninformed/willfulness in relation to being informed and voting all together and assume that one should expect of a professor of ethics "willfully informed and voting".

And that the assumption takes the form of "at least enough that the experiment provides some indication of morality" and together with all the other experiments provides strong evidence for morality/lack of morality. Possibly these assumptions are in error but seem tolerable as long as they are stated in the conclusion of the paper or are supported by literary review.


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