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Stratification of self

dylancatlow
Posts: 12,251
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6/5/2014 2:28:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Do people have the moral obligation to act in accordance with principles that would work even when applied to everyone? For example, do people have the obligation to vote, even though doing so will almost certainly not affect the outcome, given that if no one did, society could not function? If the statement "I do not have to vote because it will not affect the outcome" were objective, shouldn't it apply to everyone? But if it applies to everyone, then it no longer applies, since then the outcome would be worse. Should our actions reflect the fact that our perspective is only one of many? What are your opinions on this?
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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6/5/2014 3:09:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/5/2014 2:28:25 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
Do people have the moral obligation to act in accordance with principles that would work even when applied to everyone? For example, do people have the obligation to vote, even though doing so will almost certainly not affect the outcome, given that if no one did, society could not function? If the statement "I do not have to vote because it will not affect the outcome" were objective, shouldn't it apply to everyone? But if it applies to everyone, then it no longer applies, since then the outcome would be worse. Should our actions reflect the fact that our perspective is only one of many? What are your opinions on this?

I'm all for people not voting...that way my vote counts more :)
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
Questionner
Posts: 233
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6/5/2014 3:38:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/5/2014 2:28:25 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
do people have the obligation to vote, even though doing so will almost certainly not affect the outcome, given that if no one did, society could not function?

What you're saying doesn't seem consistent to me here.

Doesn't the fact that society could not function without vote support the idea that voting will affect the outcome?

Every vote has the power to affect the outcome, even if it's one among many, so "it won't affect the outcome" is not a good reason not to vote.

If 1 party has 900 votes and another has 50 votes and your vote is the last one, then that reason is valid because the score is known and it's impossible to make the party with 50 votes win with your one vote, but when the score isn't known (as is the case with political votes in general), then the reason isn't valid.
HumbleThinker1
Posts: 144
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6/5/2014 8:44:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/5/2014 2:28:25 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
Do people have the moral obligation to act in accordance with principles that would work even when applied to everyone? For example, do people have the obligation to vote, even though doing so will almost certainly not affect the outcome, given that if no one did, society could not function? If the statement "I do not have to vote because it will not affect the outcome" were objective, shouldn't it apply to everyone? But if it applies to everyone, then it no longer applies, since then the outcome would be worse. Should our actions reflect the fact that our perspective is only one of many? What are your opinions on this?

I like the categorical imperative and Kant as much as the next guy, but I would hardly say it constitutes a moral duty. It makes for great discussions like this and can certainly by a principle one accepts for himself, but it's hardly some objective moral duty.

As far as your actual question, you can look at the purpose of voting, which is for the people to have their voice heard by making decisions on laws and who represents them in the government. The more people that vote, the more voices are heard even if one or more groups' voices do not end up being the majority. Yet the simple act of making your voice heard can have impacts that go beyond the immediate voting session. But if you do not vote, you have zero say and no chance for change will occur. If none votes, none has any say in the government, then we simply devolve into a monarchy. And if you don't vote, how can you rightly expect anyone else to?

I believe the idea of potential good as well as the idea of acting in a manner you wish for all to act can give us a good reason to do certain acts that may seem meaningless in the short term if only one or a few people do it. But again, I wouldn't call this a moral obligation.
PureX
Posts: 1,528
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6/7/2014 7:06:22 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/5/2014 2:28:25 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
Do people have the moral obligation to act in accordance with principles that would work even when applied to everyone? For example, do people have the obligation to vote, even though doing so will almost certainly not affect the outcome, given that if no one did, society could not function? If the statement "I do not have to vote because it will not affect the outcome" were objective, shouldn't it apply to everyone? But if it applies to everyone, then it no longer applies, since then the outcome would be worse. Should our actions reflect the fact that our perspective is only one of many? What are your opinions on this?

This is why it's important for we humans to avoid perceiving the world around us in terms of opposing extremes. Because the truth is paradoxical. Ghandi once said that it doesn't really matter what any one human beings chooses to do with his life, yet it matters enormously that we each do choose, and then live accordingly.

We humans are both individuals and members of a collective. And the truth of that often generates paradox. We vote not because it matters individually, but because it matters collectively.
lemonice
Posts: 9
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6/9/2014 2:29:36 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
No, I wouldn't say we have that moral obligation. Actually the statement "I do not have to vote because it will not affect the outcome", pretending it's objective, DOES apply to everyone but on an individual basis only (it's a mistake to extend it to the collective). That's what's so great about it. It's a bit paradoxical otherwise, just like with many "if everyone thought this way" statements. If everyone thought the same thing and they didn't vote... well that just wouldn't happen since people think their action won't have an effect because many already vote.