Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Not Efficient, Not Ethical, What’s the Point? ~ Aidan & Lazar

When it comes to voting, you’re darned if you do and you’re darned if you don’t.  To not vote is to exclude yourself from the administrative process and continuation of the development of your country.  To vote is to be part of the democratic system which strives on your everliving commitment.  How do you vote to satisfy someone else?  Because you are the sole person who is meant to represent yourself, as you are the only one who knows what you want best, voting is an act meant to only satisfy the needs of oneself.  Democracy, thou art a heartless !@#%.

The main question we raise is whether or not voting is ethical.  To illustrate our point, we will look at a system that uses direct democracy in which every citizen votes for each issue individually.  This is arguably the most fair form of democracy, yet it’s still possible that 50% +1 can pass a law that would only benefit themselves and royally screw over the others.  This is because when you vote, you only vote for what you want despite the impact it would have on others in society.  Consider the mandatory bilingual labelling on packages in Canada.  It may be something I would like to have to practice my mediocre French, but it would add a lot of cost to the businesses that would have to invest in translation, printing, and the trade-off between labelling and extra marketing.  If the majority votes in favour of keeping it, they would be voting for interests that benefit themselves slightly for a greater cost to others.

From a Utilitarian perspective, we come to an ironic standpoint.  Utilitarianism is meant to work for the good of the most number of people possible despite the means.  Democracy, similarly, seeks to give the majority its requests.  However, in a democracy the act which is meant to bring this enlightening “good” to the people is purely selfish.  Utilitarianism, although the means are labelled to be unimportant, it is generally assumed that these means are selfless acts.  Unlike Utilitarianism, voting brings good to the majority by selfish means, while utilitarianism arrives to the same end with selfless means.  For example, you vote for what YOU want, not for what others want.  In fact, to make matters worse, you wish for others to not acquire what they want, for then that would mean you do not get what you want.

In Kant’s view, voting is unethical, for its means are “wrong,” in the sense that you vote for the needs of yourself, and disregard others. Hence, regardless of the ends, even if the most good is brought to essentially the most people (plus, minus), since the means were unethical, the ends are irrelevant.

The problem is, that we, as members of a democratic system cannot view voting as an ethical task. It must be an act which is performed at the out-most interest of oneself, so that the leaders of our country can take action as our representatives. We ask, that shouldn’t the very foundation of a democratic system be ethically correct towards its people, since the system itself is made upon ethical views? No, it does not, because the second you begin voting for the wants and needs of those around you, a) you cannot know what they want, and b) which person’s wants and needs do you vote for? For instance, what everyone votes for the wants and needs of one person…that does not bring a greater good to the most people either, therefore, once again at an ethical stale mate. Concluding, although unethical, voting is the key to a system which strives to be ethical.


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