‘Ethics of Voting’ topic at Linfield event

Jason BrennanThe debate behind the moral duty to vote will be featured in a lecture and commentary Thursday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room of the Jereld R. Nicholson Library at Linfield College.

The discussion, part of the “Author Meets Critic” series, will be based on the book The Ethics of Voting by Jason Brennan, assistant professor of philosophy, research at Brown University. The event will include comments from Brennan about the arguments in his book followed by critical commentary from Tamara Metz, assistant professor of political science at Reed College, and John Holzwarth, assistant professor of political science at Lewis & Clark College.

In his book, Brennan challenges fundamental assumptions about voting, revealing it may not be a duty for most citizens; in fact, he argues many people owe it to other citizens not to vote. Bad choices at the polls can result in unjust laws, needless wars and calamitous economic policies. Brennan explains why voters have an obligation to make informed decisions in the voting booth, to base their decisions on sound evidence for what will create the best possible policies, and to promote the common good rather than their own self-interest. He believes citizens must vote well or not vote at all. According to Brennan, voting is not necessarily the best way for citizens to exercise their civic duty, and some citizens should stay away from the polls to protect the democratic process from their uninformed, irrational or immoral votes.

Brennan earned his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Arizona. He is a member of the Political Theory Project, an interdisciplinary research center at Brown, and specializes in political philosophy, ethics and metaethics. Together with David Schmidtz, he is the author of A Brief History of Liberty, published in 2010.

Metz earned her Ph.D. in 2004 from Harvard University. Her fields of interest include history of political thought, liberalism and its critics, feminist and postmodern theory, political theory and law, American political thought and theories of freedom. She is the author of, “Untying the Knot: Marriage, the State and the Case for Their Divorce.” Holzwarth earned his Ph.D. in 2004 from Princeton University and currently teaches political theory. His research explores the value of cultural attachments as an existential phenomenon, with particular emphasis on the writings of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Other recent writings focus on Rousseau, Emerson and issues of religious conscience in liberal society.

The program, which is free and open to the public, is supported by the Dean’s Speakers Fundand the Charles G. Koch Foundation. For more information, contact Nick Buccola, assistant professor of political science, at 503-883-2246 or nbuccol@linfield.edu.