A Philosopher's Blog

Do We Want Rapists, Robbers and Murderers Voting?

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on August 26, 2016

My essay on felons and voting received an interesting comment from A.J. McDonald, Jr. He raised a concern about having rapists, robbers and murders voting. One initial reply is that there are many other types of felonies, a significant number of which are non-violent felonies. As such, any discussion of felons and voting needs to consider not just the worst felonies, but all the felonies on the books. And, in the United States, there are many on the books. That said, I will address the specific concern about felons convicted of rape, robbery and murder.

On the face of it, it is natural to have an immediate emotional reaction to the idea of rapists, robbers and murderers voting. After all, these are presumably very bad people and it offensive to think of them exercising the same fundamental right as other citizens. While this reaction is natural, it is generally unwise to try to settle complex moral questions by appealing to an immediate emotional reaction—although calm deliberation might end up in the same place as fiery emotion. I will begin by considering arguments for disenfranchising such felons.

The most plausible argument, given my view that voting rights are foundational rights in a democratic state, is that such crimes warrant removing or at least suspending a person’s status as a citizen. After all, when a person is justly convicted of rape, murder or robbery they are justly punished by suspension of their liberty. In some cases, they are punished by death. As such, it seems reasonable to accept that if the right to liberty (and even life) can be suspended, then the right to vote can be suspended as well. I certainly see the appeal here. However, I think there is a counter to this reasoning.

Punishment by imprisonment is generally aimed at three goals. The first is to protect the public from the criminal by removing him from society and to serve as a deterrent to others.  This could be used to justify taking away the right to vote by arguing that felons are likely to vote in ways that would harm society. The easy and obvious reply is that there seems to be little reason to think that felons could do harm through voting. Or any more harm than non-felon voters. For felons to do real harm through voting, there would need to be harmful choices and these would need to be choices that felons would pick because they are felons and they would need to be able to win that vote It could be claimed that, for example, there might be a vote on reducing prison sentences and the felons would vote in their interest to the detriment of others. While this is possible, it seems unlikely that the felons would be able to win the vote on their own. There is also the obvious counter that non-felons are likely to vote in harmful ways as well—as the history of voting shows. As such, denying felons the vote to protect the public from harm is not a reasonable justification. If there are things being voted for that could do serious harm, then the danger lies with those who got such things on the ballot and not with felons who might vote for it.

The second is the actual punishment, which is typically justified in terms of retribution. This does have some appeal as a justification, assuming that the felon wants to vote and regards being denied the vote as a harm. However, most Americans do not vote—so it is not much of a punishment. There is also the question of whether the denial of the right to vote is a suitable punishment for a crime. Punishments should not simply be tossed onto a crime—they should fit. While paying restitution would fit for a robbery, being denied the right to vote would not seem to fit.

The third is rehabilitation; the prisoner is supposed to be reformed so he can be returned to society (assuming the sentence is not death or life). Denying voting rights would seem to have the opposite effect—the person would be even more disconnected from society. As such, this would not justify removal of the voting rights.

Because of these considerations, even rapists, murderers and robbers should not lose their right to vote. I do agree, as argued in my previous essay, that crimes that are effectively rejections of the criminal’s citizenship (like rebellion and treason) would warrant stripping a person of citizenship and the right to vote. Other crimes, even awful ones, would not suffice to strip away citizenship.

Another approach is to make the case that rapists, murderers and robbers are morally bad or bad decision makers and should be denied the right to vote on moral grounds. While it is true that rapists, murderers and robbers are generally very bad people, the right to vote is not grounded in being a good person (or even just not being bad) or making good (or at least not bad) decisions. While it might seem appealing to have moral and competency tests for voting, there is the obvious problem that many voters would fail such tests. Many politicians would also fail the tests as well.

It could be countered that the only test that would be used is the legal test of whether or not a person is convicted of a felony. While obviously imperfect, it could be argued that those convicted are probably guilty and probably bad people and thus should not be voting. While it is true that some innocent people will be convicted and denied the right to vote and also true that many bad people will be able to avoid convictions, this is acceptable.

A reply to this is to inquire as to why such a moral standard should be used in regards to the right to vote. After all, the right to vote (as I have argued before) is not predicated on moral goodness or competence. It is based on being a citizen, good or bad. As such, any crime that does not justly remove a citizen’s status as a citizen would not warrant removing the right to vote. Yes, this does entail that rapists, murders and robbers should retain the right to vote. This might strike some as offensive or disgusting, but these people remain citizens. If this is too offensive, then such crimes would need to be recast as acts of treason that strip away citizenship. This seems excessive. And there is the fact that there are always awful people voting—they just have not been caught or got away with their awfulness or are clever and connected enough to ensure that the awful things they do are not considered felonies or even crimes. I am just as comfortable allowing a robber to vote as I am to allow Trump and Hillary to vote in their own election.

 

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 26, 2016 at 9:24 am

    You say: “While it is true that rapists, murderers and robbers are generally very bad people, the right to vote is not grounded in being a good person…” but the truth is the right to vote IS (and long has been) grounded in being a good person, or at least not being a convicted felon.

    People who want to grant voting rights to convicted felons are having to change the laws in order to do so. Until now, no one wanted to grant voting rights to convicted felons, for what used to be obvious reasons: we don’t want evil people participating in civil matters.

    I think you need to make this issue more concrete and less abstract…

    Consider the small town, which is made up of people who work hard, save for the future, pay their taxes, obey the laws, go to church, and vote for things that will make their town a nice, moral, safe place to raise a family. We’ll call these folks: Group #1

    Also in this small town are those people who don’t work, who do drugs, and who steal, rob, rape, and murder. We’ll call these thugs: Group #2

    Question: Who, in their right mind, would allow the thugs in Group #2 to participate in the civil matters of running this small town on an equal basis with the folks in Group #1?

    • TJB said, on August 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      Question: Who, in their right mind, would allow the thugs in Group #2 to participate in the civil matters of running this small town on an equal basis with the folks in Group #1?

      Answer: Democrats. Because they believe Republicans are evil, the end justifies the means.

    • Angra Mainyu said, on August 27, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      ajmacdonaldjr,

      While I think that considering more concrete cases could be of use, I don’t think your example is useful in this context, for a number of reasons, such as:
      1. It suggests church going is a positive thing, at least voting-wise. Some of us consider it a sign of commitment to Christianity (or whatever religion they follow), which is, all other things equal, negative when it comes to voting, since their vote would be influenced by Christian-based moral beliefs, and that’s a problem. Yes, we disagree, but that issue would take the debate into another direction, and it’s irrelevant to the question of whether to allow rapists, robbers and murderers to vote.
      2. It considers a more concrete but unrealistic scenario, at least in present-day Western countries. It’s extremely improbable than there is a small town in which all of the people are into group #1 or #2, and furthermore that the groups are disjoint.
      There may well be (and very probably are) homeless people who don’t have a job but don’t steal, rob, rape or murder. In fact, chances are most people who don’t work hard do not murder or rape, or even rob. They may be homeless, or live with their parents, or spouse, or be retired, etc. There may well be people who go to church and steal, or rape (e.g. their respective wives, children), or take bribes and don’t work hard, etc.
      3. In any event, given the thugs a vote would not imply that the thugs in Group #2 are allowed to participate in the civil matters of running this small town on an equal basis with the folks in Group #1.
      There is at least one crucial difference: The thugs in prison would not have to be allowed to run for elective office and/or hold elective office. The OP is arguing for allowing rapists, murderers and robbers to vote, not for allowing them to be president, governor, or – in the case of a small town -, mayor, etc. I don’t know what Michael’s position on those matters is, but the OP makes no such implications.
      Additionally, it’s not clear to me that the OP is meant to support that the thugs in prison would get to vote in the elections in the small town while they’re in prison. The issue seems to be whether they get to vote in things like presidential elections (well, it’s actually for people in the Electoral College, but close enough), representatives, governor, etc. But if they are in prison and the prison is in a small town, many of them have no connection with the town (they were never there before they were sent to prison), and it’s not clear they qualify as inhabitants of the town in any relevant sense. That might justify not allowing them to vote in small town elections for reasons not related to those discussed in the OP. You would have to ask Michael about that if you want to know his position on the matter.

      • ronster12012 said, on August 28, 2016 at 9:18 am

        Angra

        Re your points.

        1/ “Some of us consider it a sign of commitment to Christianity (or whatever religion they follow), which is, all other things equal, negative when it comes to voting, since their vote would be influenced by Christian-based moral beliefs, and that’s a problem.”

        WTF, are you kidding me?? So what would you do, exclude any religious person from voting on the grounds that your belief system is better…lolololol……wow, you must be young….You perhaps don’t realise it yet but everyone has a belief system that influences voting, religious, atheist, humanist, communist, young and dumb whatever, and voting is how all these differences get evened out.

        2/ ” It considers a more concrete but unrealistic scenario, at least in present-day Western countries.”
        WTF would you know about present day Western countries? SFA… Regardless of your geographical or demographical opinions, it was used as an illustration of a principle, an analogy.

        3/ “In any event, given the thugs a vote would not imply that the thugs in Group #2 are allowed to participate in the civil matters of running this small town on an equal basis with the folks in Group #1.”

        But it does imply that their votes are of equal value to the non felonious inhabitants. If the argument is that once a sentence is served then full civil rights including voting rights then what is to stop them running for office?

        • Angra Mainyu said, on August 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm

          ronster12012,

          You are attributing to me beliefs and intentions I don’t have and that you have no good reason to even suspect I have. I wouldn’t exclude people from voting because they’re religious. My point was not remotely related to that. It was that ajmacdonaldjr was introducing factors other than rape, murder and robbery, and in particular assessing going to church was a positive factor, which would likely take the discussion away from its central points. Which is what you’re doing now by misconstruing what I said.

          And not everyone has a “belief system” that improperly influences voting. To the extent that a person has some epistemically irrational beliefs (which they do not need to be parts of a “system”), they might improperly influence voting.

          As for the point about Western countries, you’re wrong again: the point was that the analogy was not a good one, for the reasons I explained. Whether it’s a good idea to exclude some people from voting depends of the specific circumstances of the scenario. Picking up an unrealistic scenario is not in this case a good idea.

          As for the third point, sure, the individual votes have the same impact, but my point remains: the murderers, rapists and robbers would not have to have the same power to govern the town as the other inhabitants. Again, I don’t know what Michael’s position is on running for office or holding elective office while imprisoned. But it doesn’t follow from the OP that he supports allowing that as well. If you’re talking about running for office while in prison but only getting to their position after their sentence is over, he might support that (but I don’t know that he does), but the fact remains that they wouldn’t have to be allowed to either run for jobs whose mandate begins when they’re imprisoned, or to start their elected job when in prison, or even run for elective office in a town they have no connection to. So, the fact remains they wouldn’t have to have the same power to make decisions about running the town as everyone else.

          That said, in retrospective replying was a bad idea, given the hostility of the reply, so goodbye.

          • ronster12012 said, on August 28, 2016 at 7:56 pm

            Angra

            ……………………………………………………………………………
            “You are attributing to me beliefs and intentions I don’t have and that you have no good reason to even suspect I have. I wouldn’t exclude people from voting because they’re religious. ”
            ……………………………………………………………………………..
            “Some of us consider it a sign of commitment to Christianity (or whatever religion they follow), which is, all other things equal, negative when it comes to voting, since their vote would be influenced by Christian-based moral beliefs, and that’s a problem. ”
            ……………………………………………………………………………….

            So if it is a problem what would you do about it other than exclude those delegitimized beliefs…..or why bring it up. In a democratic system one should have at least a certain level of respect for the rights of others to express their values via the ballot box.

            ………………………………………………………………………….
            “And not everyone has a “belief system” that improperly influences voting. To the extent that a person has some epistemically irrational beliefs (which they do not need to be parts of a “system”), they might improperly influence voting.’
            …………………………………………………………………………..

            So in your mind at least, you are in a position to judge others rationality….lol

            ……………………………………………………………………………

            “That said, in retrospective replying was a bad idea, given the hostility of the reply, so goodbye.”
            ……………………………………………………………………………..

            If you think that my reply was hostile then I can only suggest that you harden the fuck up, princess. Not everyone tolerates bullshit.

            • Angra Mainyu said, on August 28, 2016 at 8:20 pm

              Your belief that my reply is bullshit and deserves your intolerances is both false and epistemically unjustified. But in hindsight, I realize that posting here was not a good idea. I will move on and post elsewhere in the future.

            • ronster12012 said, on August 28, 2016 at 8:31 pm

              Of course it was a good idea to post here, you just didn’t like the result. Take my advise, harden up and stop being so precious….

      • ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 28, 2016 at 8:19 pm

        It seems obvious to me that criminals should not be allowed to vote.

        • Angra Mainyu said, on August 28, 2016 at 8:41 pm

          ajmacdonaldjr,

          That reply doesn’t give me much information. Maybe you could elaborate on it?
          For example, do you think they shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they deserve not to be allowed to vote, or because of some other reason (or both), such as protecting the public from their potentially bad decisions?
          By the way, I suggested a couple of potential reasons supporting a voting ban for at least some criminals (we’re talking about robbers, murderers, and rapists) in my reply to Michael’s post here.

          Regarding your latest point, you seem to be going much further than the case of robbers, murderers and rapists.
          For example, when you say “criminals” should not be allowed to vote, are you talking about all crimes (including misdemeanors), all felonies, or only some of them? (if so, which ones?).

  2. ronster12012 said, on August 26, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Try to make sure that none of the candidates are rapist, robbers or murderers too..

    • david halbstein said, on August 27, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Ronster, you have to realize that in this country, some candidates fall under a different set of laws and do not get convicted or even accused of crimes that us reg’lar folk would be jailed for in a heartbeat.

      • ronster12012 said, on August 27, 2016 at 8:54 am

        All animals are equal but some are more equal than others….twas ever thus. It is the same here, you can watch the ways certain circles make problems go away.

  3. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 27, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Professor Mike. Have you considered the recidivism issue? I think I would be more open to the idea of felons voting IF they were able to prove they would not reoffend over a considerable period of time, like ten years. The idea of granting felons the right to vote the minute they get out of prison, off of parole, or off of probation is foolishness. The vast majority of large trucking companies require any driver with a felony on his record to stay out of trouble for ten years before he can be hired. Even then it depends upon the type of felony and the company’s policy.

    “About 68 percent of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of their release from prison, and 77 percent were arrested within five years, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released Tuesday… The report also found that recidivism was highest among males, blacks and young adults. Within five years of release, 82 percent of property offenders were arrested for a new crime, compared to 77 percent of drug offenders, 74 percent of public order offenders and 71 percent of violent offenders, the report found…” Read more: Once a criminal, always a criminal? http://www.cbsnews.com/news/once-a-criminal-always-a-criminal

    The typical felon: VIDEO – Murder suspect has extensive criminal history https://youtu.be/Z_nKadPRldA

  4. ronster12012 said, on August 28, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Michael

    FWIW, here in Oz prisoners in jail serving sentences under 3 years get to vote in Federal elections(I don’t know about other elections).

    In Oz voting is compulsory, one of only two countries that have compulsory voting. Actually, the voting itself is not compulsory(though they say it is), rather there is compulsory attendance at a polling station and one can vote wherever you are if you are away from home. The idea behind this was to stop anyone putting any barriers in the way of voting.There is a fine for not voting, but it is actually a fine for being to lazy or stupid to think up a plausible excuse for not voting.

    One other aspect of this question is that if the sentence ie. loss of liberty, is the punishment then once that is completed (including parole etc) then the matter is finished. If the matter is actually finished full civil rights should be restored as on the other side of the coin the individual still has full obligations to the state.

  5. david halbstein said, on August 28, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I think we should not lose focus on what is actually happening here. There is the issue of whether or not felons should have the right to vote, of course, which in this case is a Virginia issue. We can weigh in on it from a moral, philosophical point of view, a legal point of view, or a political point of view. If we are felons, we can weigh in on a self-serving point of view, but none of that really matters. It is a Virginia matter – or, more broadly, it is a state matter.

    The Commonwealth of Virginia, like the United States, has a tri-cameral system of government with a legislative branch, a judicial branch, and an executive branch. Laws are supposed to be voted on and passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor. Legal challenges are to be heard by the supreme court of the state.

    Like the President of the United States, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia enjoys the use of an Executive Order – but this privilege is NOT intended to give the executive any power of legislation.

    “Executive Orders are generally used to direct federal agencies and officials in their execution of congressionally established laws or policies.”.

    There is a bigger issue here than that of the restoration of rights to felons in Virginia. The bigger issue is the very definition of our government, which {as has been pointed out on this forum), serves at the will and consent of the people.

    Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order effectively circumventing the legislature entirely, to enact a law unilaterally. In doing so, he has challenged the system and declared himself to have far more power than ever intended.

    The Supreme Court in his state has declared his move unconstitutional. He does not have this power. Yet, incredibly, he has declared that he is going to find a loophole, a “workaround”, because in his view, his order trumps the very process that has been in place for over 200 years, one designed to protect the people of the Commonwealth from tyrannical acts like these.

    This creeping power grab is happening in various states around the country, but more important, at the federal level as well.

    Terry McAuliffe is no different from Barack Obama in his belief in his own supremacy. Should we accept “If Congress won’t act, I will”? It doesn’t matter if it is a Republican congress or a Democrat; it doesn’t matter if we believe in the issue or oppose it – our government was built on the premise that NO executive and NO legislative body would have sole power in cases like these.

    The issue here is not whether or not felons should have the right to vote restored. That is (or should be) a decision for the Virginia Legislature to decide.

    The issue is far more dangerous and far reaching – that the Governor of Virginia does not believe that the system that elected him governor is valid if it stands in the way of what he desires to do.

  6. […] Do We Want Rapists, Robbers and Murderers Voting? […]

  7. […] Do We Want Rapists, Robbers and Murderers Voting? […]

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  9. Angra Mainyu said, on August 28, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    ronster12012,

    The reason it was not a good idea for me to post here is not just that I didn’t like the answer, or that you disagreed with me. Rather, the reason is that discussing an issue I find interesting is not worth being treated in that manner. More precisely, disagreement about the matters at hand is not a problem for me (in fact, I like discussions); serious misunderstandings of what I said, assumptions about me or my positions that are epistemically irrational and false, etc., are problematic to me, but the biggest problem by far for me is the display of animosity (which often comes attached to such misunderstandings, etc., but is not limited to them).
    Regarding your advice to “harden up”, the fact is that I’ve been taken this sort of treatment and worse for years.
    Eventually, I grew too tired of it. It’s too stressful. Maybe one could say that after taking so much fire, I eventually “softened up”. Maybe you will soften up, given enough time. Then again, maybe not. I’ve found some people who seem to like fighting indefinitely, but also some others who eventually decided to stop because it was just too much. I don’t know you enough to tell, so it might go either way, for all I know.

    In any event, I tend to avoid posting where I know there is a serious chance of replies like yours, so I won’t do it again. Since Michael posts elsewhere as well, this is not a problem for me when I want to address some of his points. I replied here only because I also wanted to address ajmacdonaldjr’s post. But then again, there are plenty of other interesting things to discuss elsewhere on the internet.

    • ronster12012 said, on August 28, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      Angra

      If you have received as much animosity over the years as you say, take that as a hint. Stop being annoying ie. arrogant and entitled. Arrogant, in this instance, in that you think you can question the eligibility of the voting rights of those that have a religious based belief system and entitled to think that responders have to engage you on your terms. FWIW I am not particularly religious but do recognize the contributions of religion to western culture.

      • Angra Mainyu said, on August 28, 2016 at 11:08 pm

        ronster12012,

        Again, I never said or suggested anything remotely questioning the voting rights of religious people. Rather, I pointed out that the example implied that going to church was a positive thing voting-wise. I pointed out that we disagreed with that, but bringing that up in this context is not a good idea, as it detracts from the discussion of the matter at hand, namely whether laws should allow murderers, robbers and rapists to vote. Note that the diversion would be in the form of debating whether going to church was in this context positive, not whether laws should allow religious people to vote, since in that sense, we all agree.
        Now, I did not say anything remotely suggesting that I think religious people or churchgoers should not be allowed to vote or anything similar to that. I had no good reason to expect an attack after that unwarranted attribution – let alone a repeated one. For that matter, even if I had specifically said I don’t think churchgoers should be banned from voting, you or someone else might have attacked me after attributing to me some other belief and/or implication that I don’t have. Who knows? Many people tend to make things up, attribute them to others, and then attack persistently. It happens. The best I can do is defend myself, and then not go back near the place where it happened.

        By the way, if I were in favor of passing laws banning churchgoers from voting (which, again, is something I would in no way support), I would not have said or suggested it, out of fear of non-civil replies (instead of civil discussion). But at least, if I were in favor of passing such laws, I would have predicted a likely reply like yours if I expressed such views, so I would have refrained from expressing them. Since I’m not at all in favor of any of that, and I wasn’t suggesting it in any way, I failed to predict I would nevertheless be attributed that position, and then attacked on the basis of it.

        As for your the alleged (positive) contribution of religion to Western Culture, I would say that many religious people contributed of course (unsurprisingly, since nearly all people have historically been religious, at least by present-day standards), but religion itself overall contributed in a vastly negative manner.

        This is not to say that there weren’t/aren’t individual instances of positive contributions. For example, if someone refrains from committing murder, rape, robbery, etc., out of fear of divine retribution, that’s a positive contribution from religion. Now, I don’t think a high percentage of people refrain out of fear of divine retribution. The vast majority of religious people wouldn’t do any of that even if they left their religion, and those who intend to do such things usually don’t change their minds due to religion, but taking into account all of history (or even all of Western history), and all people, instances of such events surely happened. There are even a few felons who change a life of crime for one of religious devotion, which gives them some false moral beliefs that result in bad behavior, but also keeps them from considerably worse behavior, etc.

        Another positive contribution is (for instance) the comfort that religion can give and sometimes give to people in dire situations, e.g., dying in some particularly bad way.

        So, there are some positive contributions from religion. I’m not sure those count as contribution to Western Civilization. But perhaps some positive contributions existed in that regard too.

        What I’m saying (now, because you bring up the issue) is that overall the contribution has been quite negative, so maybe we disagree on that.
        Yet, that wasn’t the point I was making in the post of mine you first replied to, either. The point was that some of us think a commitment to religion is all other things equal (so, not in all cases and circumstances), negative when it comes to voting (regardless of whether it’s overall negative or positive with regard to other matters), so bringing it as positive (in order to contrast the two groups in ajmacdonaldjr’s first reply to Michael) leads to disagreement on issues not related to the OP. We could discuss it (i.e., whether it’s positive or negative all other things equal), but then, that would detract from the discussion of the OP – something that clearly has already happened by now, though for other reasons.

        All that said, I don’t think uncivil replies are generally morally justified (though there are exceptions in some hypothetical scenarios, as usual), even when someone expresses views like support for banning religious people from voting. But regardless, the fact is that I never did anything like that. Yet, I’ve spent a lot more time defending myself than discussing what I actually intended to discuss, and took rhetorical fire for no good reason. I don’t know for how much longer this exchange will continue, but the exchange so far is more than enough to make me realize that posting wasn’t worth it.

        All that said, since you keep giving me advice (though on the basis of a misunderstanding of my position), I’ll give you some too: even if you like on-line fighting and show your opponents your anger, I would suggest that you be more careful before attributing behaviors, beliefs, intent, etc., to others. On the internet, there are plenty of people willing to fight you who actually support plenty of views that you find outrageous (I might have some views like that myself, but none that I have expressed here).

    • TJB said, on August 28, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      Angra:

      Why do you think being influenced by Christian beliefs is a “problem” for voting? I happen to be an atheist myself, but I realize that every person brings his or her belief system to the voting booth and I have no problem with that.

      • Angra Mainyu said, on August 28, 2016 at 11:55 pm

        TJB,

        Just to be absolutely clear: I have no problem with Christians voting, and I would never suggest they should not be allowed to vote. Rather, my position is that their Christian belief is a problem in the sense it’s a negative when it comes to the quality of their vote, all other things equal. In other words, it has a negative overall effect on their ability to make a proper choice and vote.

        This is precisely the issue I said didn’t want to discuss, not to divert the thread, but briefly (though there is a good chance it will escalate), one key problem is that they have an improper source of moral beliefs, as a result of their religious beliefs.

        For example, Christians (with perhaps very few exceptions) they believe the Bible, or Catholic Tradition, etc., are inspired by an omniscient morally perfect person, and as a result, they contain a reliable guide to moral truth, at least when properly interpreted. While not all Christians consider all of the Bible inspired, or they think that some parts are no longer applicable, etc., the fact remains that discussing the morality of a behavior on the basis of such-and-such biblical interpretation is improper. In other words, that’s engaging in moral deliberation in an epistemically wrong way, which results in an overall increase likelihood of holding false moral beliefs. In addition to the issue of engaging in moral deliberation in an epistemically wrong way, there is the problem with the specific moral beliefs directly supported by the biblical authors.

        Moral deliberation and beliefs are very important when it comes to voting. In fact, many of the disagreements between voters, candidates, etc., are moral disagreements – disagreements about who deserves what, about what is just, etc.

        Of course, not all Christians are in the same situation in that regard, because they interpret the Bible or other sources very differently, in practice pay more or less attention to their religion, etc., so while all of them have an improper source of moral beliefs, the damage it does varies widely.

        Still, for that an other reasons, I reckon that all other things equal being a Christian is a negative (there are no positive factors resulting from Christianity and outweighing that negative one), when it comes to voting, and the more committed to Christianity a person is, then – also, all other things equal -, the more negative it is, because the influence of the improper source is greater.

        Obviously, I don’t believe every Christian always makes worse choices than every non-Christian, or even than any non-theist, etc.; there are plenty of other problems (i.e., other than Christianity), and there are also positive factors that some Christians can have regardless of their Christianity (but for that matter, something like that also applies, to various degrees, to at least some of the people in some of other categories mentioned by ajmacdonaldjr, like people who don’t work, and/or do drugs).

        • WTP said, on August 29, 2016 at 6:34 am

          Yaddayaddayadda TL;DR They are unenlightened because they express views with which I disagree, therefore they lack “quality”. Unlike philosophical douchebags who have never worked in positions of true responsibility in the real world nor understand the great complexities of life.

          Same old tired argument that’s been going on for centuries between in-groups and out-groups, it just that since we live in the wealthiest civilization this planet has ever seen, we have enough wealth to piss away on paying such people to sit around and b***h, spending hours banging out much sound and fury that in the end signifies nothing. And much like the Romans and the Greeks and etc etc etc we will continue down this path until there is some incredible calamity such that our civilization falls or we pull out of this downward slide at the last moment.

          TJ, David, ronster, etc, I used to believe that the free exchange of ideas would prevent such. But it can only do so in an environment where those ideas are informed by real-world experience. Arguing with these people is a waste of time and energy. They will always be “right” and those opposed to them will always be wrong. Because it is all nothing but argument. Just words, not deeds. If you truly want to change this world for the better, you need to get out in the real world and help those who are struggling, mostly due to this leftist douchebag BS. To show them how far they have been led astray by the damage these people have done to our society. To help them understand the real world. Once those people are successful these so-called philosophers will be left to do their babbling in their mothers’ basements where they belong. I believe Mike Rowe is doing tremendous work in this regard. We need to be moving in that direction and leave this sound and fury to shout in its own darkness.

          • Angra Mainyu said, on August 29, 2016 at 1:22 pm

            WTP,

            You’re attacking a target that has already been taken out. I’m already leaving after this thread.
            As to your claims about me and my post:

            First, it’s a gross misrepresentation of my position to claim or imply that I say some views like quality because they disagree with me. Any rational person who reads my post carefully would realize that (well, if they understand English and the context). But you didn’t bother with that (“TL;DR”). You just raised unwarranted, false accusations- even if you do not realize that, and will not realize that.
            Second, I don’t get paid to make arguments. It’s not that there would be anything wrong with it. It would be great. But I don’t. And that won’t change in the future, either.
            Third I don’t “bitch”. You attack. The “fury” is on your side, not on mine. The post you replied to does not express any anger. Yours does (out of place anger, but anger nonetheless).
            Fourth, most right-wingers seem to think I’m a left-winger, if and when they get to know some of my positions. Most left-wingers seem to think I’m a right-winger, if and when they get to know some of my positions (not the same as right-wingers, of course). I’m neither.

            • wtp said, on August 29, 2016 at 3:52 pm

              When you are dismissive of others, i.e. the “quality” of the votes of Christians, or anyone for that matter, you are in no position to cry about others being dismissive of the boilerplate philosophical BS in which you yourself are immersed. You state:
              “…my position is that their Christian belief is a problem in the sense it’s a negative when it comes to the quality of their vote”

              and now you say:
              “First, it’s a gross misrepresentation of my position to claim or imply that I say some views like (you did mean “lack”, yes?) quality because they disagree with me. Any rational person who reads my post carefully would realize that (well, if they understand English and the context).”

              Before you respond (though it seems like a typical philosophy type, you’re claiming hurt feelings and running away), I understand how you can split hairs and claim that you’re not contradicting yourself. But this is the very thing that is the problem. It’s words. Types such as yourself cannot hold positions of responsibility because you only have words and you can play the “I never said that” game infinitely. Because there is no concrete instantiation of your position, you’re safe. I have tried over and over across the years to explain such to Mike, but it is to no effect. A brief perusal of your discussions with TJ and Ronster show the same flawed thinking. The very things that persons such as yourself dismiss Christianity, etc. for are the very flaws in your reasoning. A person’s vote is their vote. I may totally disagree with someone such as yourself but to imply that their vote is some “negative” is a not-so-veiled attempt to lay the groundwork for disenfranchising people with whom you disagree.

              I myself am not especially religious. In fact, due to past experience engaged in conversation with such people, I have a similar disregard for much of the more right-wing view point. But my disregard is founded in the similarities between such right-wing extreme positions and those of leftists. It is the commonality stems from a desire to shut people up, to control them, to legislate morality. A fool’s errand that does much damage for which the implementing fools rarely pay.

              However, I would not in anyway state that when such people are voting, that they are somehow taking something away from the process. Similar to what I stated above regarding actually helping those who are struggling, how people vote is a reflection on society. If you don’t like how people vote, the mature, enlightened means of changing society is working with people and not using the power of government to change them. Show the people how to help themselves and their voting will change accordingly.

              If you wish to run away, by all means run away. But if you wish to make a stand, find some firm ground from which to do so.

  10. Angra Mainyu said, on August 29, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    wtp,

    No, I don’t need to split hairs. Of course, I’m not contradicting myself. And I’m not “dismissive of others”. The point is that I never said or suggested that anyone’s vote lacks quality because they disagree with me. Rather, the vote’s quality is reduced because they introduce an epistemically improper element in their process of moral deliberation (again, not because they disagree with me) (and yes, I meant “lack”; when I’m under attack like that, I’m a lot more prone to making mistakes).

    I already explained that carefully in a previous post (the one you didn’t read because you consider it too long), so I won’t repeat that.
    The claim that “there is no concrete instantiation of your position” is puzzling. My position on the matter is clear (to someone reading carefully and being rational, and with enough knowledge to understand the issues), but it’s not the sort of thing that can be instantiated.
    Also, I never said or suggested that their vote was a negative. Rather, I said (among other things, but in this context) that Christian belief was a negative factor when it comes to contributions to the quality of a person’s vote, not that the whole vote of that person was a negative factor.

    That’s not to say that votes aren’t sometimes negative factors. I didn’t say it or suggested with regard to Christians, but sometimes people vote for racial supremacists, religious extremists, etc., because they support those things, or for a number of bad effects, and it would be better if they chose not to vote (which is in no way a suggestion that they should not be allowed to vote). But that’s not the point here, since I did not say or imply that the votes of Christians were in fact always, usually, often, and/or overall negative. And I don’t believe that they are.

    But you continue to grossly misrepresent my words, with blatant disregard for the truth. You falsely and unjustly attribute to me beliefs and intentions that I do not have. For example, you say “I may totally disagree with someone such as yourself but to imply that their vote is some “negative” is a not-so-veiled attempt to lay the groundwork for disenfranchising people with whom you disagree.”, implying that there was an attempt on my part – a not-so-veiled one – to lay
    the groundwork for disenfranchising people with whom you disagree. That’s is not remotely in my mind, and you have no good reason whatsoever to ever suspect that it is, but you go on and accuse as if you had beyond a reasonable doubt evidence that I have that intention.

    Your implication that I’m trying to shut people up here is false and based on nothing.

    On the other hand, when you talk about legislating morality, you might be on to something. If you’re talking about legislating on the basis of moral assessments, surely that is proper if the assessments in question are, and lawmakers do that all the time. In fact, as I already pointed out, moral deliberation and beliefs are very important when it comes to voting. In fact, many of the disagreements between voters, candidates, etc., are moral disagreements – disagreements about who deserves what, about what is just, etc.

    In fact, when it comes to punishment, as Michael pointed out, one of the usual reasons is the punishment itself. In other words, it’s because they deserve it. Surely, when it comes to passing laws determining punishments for what people who behave in some ways (e.g., people who rob, rape, and murder), one of the things to take into consideration is what kind of punishment the people in question deserve for their behavior, and that is a moral assessment. So, I’m not opposed to legislating morality in some (many) cases, and in fact I’m against not doing so.

    That aside, yes I will run, because I fear people who attack me like you do, because this is a bad not a good time for me (i.e., reading your attacks and replying; it’s not a good thing). But I won’t go before defending myself against your unjust attacks, at least a little bit. I do have a tendency to act in self-defense when attacked; I just prefer not to be attacked in the first place. So, I will probably run away faster if you stop attacking me.

    Of course I have firm grounds to take a stance. You have nothing but unjust attacks against me, based on unwarranted and false attributions of beliefs, intent, etc. But what you have is quite effective, since I will not post in another thread on this blog ever, because I fear you and others will attack me in a manner similar to the way you already had. Then again, more precisely, your attacks would have been very effective if it weren’t for the fact that ronster12012’s attacks had already been effective at achieving that result, so your attacks are a bit like bombing a target someone else just took out. Then again, they might be effective at something else, like signaling to your in-group that you’re one of them and you will not let views like the one you (falsely and without justification, but apparently you don’t and won’t know that) attribute to me go unchallenged, improve your reputation within your group, etc.

    • wtp said, on August 30, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      No, I don’t need to split hairs. Of course, I’m not contradicting myself. And I’m not “dismissive of others”.
      You’re doing it again.

      he vote’s quality is reduced because they introduce an epistemically improper element in their process of moral deliberation
      And there we have it. Epistemically improper. See TJ’s comment below. But of course you don’t have a test. But they’re epistemically improper in their reasoning. Which is something you determined how? Oh, it’s not at test, it’s a something else something something and that makes it all different. It’s just blather with you people. Go out in the real world, get a real job, and do-do-do-do-do something. Be a success in life first. Then you can pontificate on who meets the standard.

      And again, that’s as far as I got. See I have a life and a job and work to do. Normal people don’t have eons to peruse the ramblings of people who can’t get one paragraph out without exposing their lack of self awareness. But please do tell us more about how I (we?) hurt your feelings. How you fear us. How you are “under attack”. Do go on about that. I’m sure someone cares. I know a few “Christians” who engage in a similar manner. Knock yourself out.

      OK, this did jump out at me:
      one of the things to take into consideration is what kind of punishment the people in question deserve for their behavior, and that is a moral assessment. So, I’m not opposed to legislating morality in some (many) cases, and in fact I’m against not doing so.

      And hence the problem. We have for the most part done away with corporal punishment. The death penalty being the exception, but one might argue that itself is just a permanent form of the following…For the most part, and I would argue as it should be, prisons are primarily for keeping violent offenders away from society and to give them such time, based on the severity of their act and the degree of risk of recidivism, to consider what they have done. It is not a morals-based action. It is done to maintain peace in society and to protect society from the violence and thievery and such. Sexual promiscuity is immoral but not illegal. Hate is immoral but not totally illegal, but we are moving in that direction. And that direction is itself wrong. You cannot legislate morality. Morality is very important to society, but it is not the domain of government, it is the domain of social interaction and by extension, if one so believes, God. You cannot punish a man into being more moral. Such change may be influenced by the society in which that person lives, but it cannot truly occur without the immoral person changing from within.

      Now run along before your feelz get hurt any more.

      • Angra Mainyu said, on August 30, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        wtp,

        No, I’m not doing again what I never did. You keep falsely (and without warrant for your beliefs) accusing me of doing what I did not do.

        Now, I claim it’s epistemically improper (for adult humans in the context of discussion, not in a sense of metaphysical necessity) to attempt to figure out moral truth by means of trying to figure out what an alleged omniscient morally perfect creator says through the Bible (or the Quran, or Catholic Tradition, or whatever) what the moral truth is.
        That’s not being “dismissive of others”; that’s a very negative expression, whereas my point is not dismissive but correct, and based on a consideration of what they’re doing.

        “But of course you don’t have a test. But they’re epistemically improper in their reasoning. Which is something you determined how?”
        I consider the matter on a case by case basis, using reasoning, including my own epistemic probabilistic assessments, like everyone else does.

        ” It’s just blather with you people. . Go out in the real world, get a real job, and do-do-do-do-do something. Be a success in life first. Then you can pontificate on who meets the standard.”
        “You people”?
        And you have the gall to call me “dismissive of others”?
        It’s just hatred and irrationally with you wtp – not with “you people”, but with you, wtp.
        You even attack me personally, assuming for no good reason whatsoever that I don’t have a real job, etc., and also without realizing that even if you got that right out of sheer luck, that is not remotely related to my point, and doesn’t challenge it (in the eyes of the rational reader, anyway). You engage in an ad-hominem attack.
        By the way, I’m not a “you people”.

        “And again, that’s as far as I got. See I have a life and a job and work to do. ”
        Good for you. It does not make it acceptable for you to attribute to me intentions and beliefs that I do not have, without any good reason to even suspect that I do. It does not make it acceptable for you to treat me the way you treat me. You might work 20 hours a day and make a ton of money (or a little, or whatever), and that would still not make your attacks on me morally acceptable. I did nothing against you, or against the people you accused me of attacking.

        “Normal people don’t have eons to peruse the ramblings of people who can’t get one paragraph out without exposing their lack of self awareness. ”
        I didn’t expose anything. You attacked me, and you do seem to have a good amount of time to keep attacking me, without reason or provocation.

        “But please do tell us more about how I (we?) hurt your feelings. How you fear us. How you are “under attack”. Do go on about that. I’m sure someone cares.”
        You don’t even realize how you’re attacking me?
        You even claimed that I was engaging in a “not-so-veiled attempt to lay the groundwork for disenfranchising people with whom you disagree.”.
        Well, your belief that I’m doing that is both false and epistemically unwarranted. Your saying that I’m doing that is immoral, as it attacks me for no good reason. And you keep attacking me, without good reason.
        Now, how does that hurt my feelings?
        How do I think I feel now, when someone keeps engaging in that kind of vilification against me?
        I came here to try to discuss in a civil manner something I found interesting. Instead, I’m fighting to set the record straight and defend myself. I’m not exactly having fun.

        “And hence the problem. We have for the most part done away with corporal punishment. The death penalty being the exception, but one might argue that itself is just a permanent form of the following…For the most part, and I would argue as it should be, prisons are primarily for keeping violent offenders away from society and to give them such time, based on the severity of their act and the degree of risk of recidivism, to consider what they have done.”
        Finally, a substantive point. I disagree.
        In fact, you’re also making a moral argument. You’re saying that prisons should be for that purpose. That’s a moral “should”. Moreover, you point out that it’s based on the severity of their act.
        Now, I don’t agree that that is or should be the primary purpose of prisons. I do think that the punishment should be just, i.e., deserved. This is not to say that, within the limits of deserved punishments, other considerations shouldn’t be at play. For example, if there are limited resources and some people will get away with some things, then it’s reasonable to try to apply just punishments in a way that also focuses on preventing further crime. Also, given that a person is already being justly punished, it makes sense (if there is a chance, etc.) to consider whether it’s useful to dedicate resources to try to reform them, and it often is. But that would not justify unjust punishments.

        By the way, in Argentina (for example), there are former dictators and other participants in horrible crimes (mass torture, mass murder of prisoners, etc.), who are in prison now. They have no political support, and present no threat. They are in their eighties (or more), and can’t harm others. They are also committed (and have been for decades) to see themselves as heroes and victims. They don’t believe what they did was wrong, but praiseworthy. Putting them in prison predictably has not and will not ever change what they believe.
        Why are they in prison?
        As a punishment, because they deserve it.
        The same applies to some other former dictators, former Nazis, etc. Not all of them are still a threat. And in most cases, there is not a remote chance that they will consider what they did immoral. But they are imprisoned. Because they deserve it.
        Well, there is another reason: to prevent others from taking justice in their own hands.
        But even then, moral considerations are key: if person A is not guilty (or there is not enough evidence to tell that he is guilty), but a bunch of people are sure he is guilty and are willing to harm A unless the government imprisons him, the government should not imprison A, but protect him (assuming the government has the power to do so).

        “It is not a morals-based action. It is done to maintain peace in society and to protect society from the violence and thievery and such.”
        What about those who aren’t a threat anymore, like the former dictators I mentioned above?

        “Sexual promiscuity is immoral but not illegal.”
        I don’t agree that it’s immoral. It might be in some cases, but not per se (e.g., it might be if one promised to be faithful and cheats on one’s partner, but it’s not immoral for the promiscuity itself).

        But even if it were, I do not think that state/government punishment is the appropriate response to all immoral behaviors. In many cases, that would be an excessive punishment, unless perhaps there were minuscule punishments only involving a warning or calling someone on their behavior, but even there, it would not be a good idea for a number of reasons, such as the fact that there aren’t enough resources for that, and the fact that it would require the state/government to get involved in people’s private lives, resulting in worse results.

        What I said is that when it comes to passing laws determining punishments for what people who behave in some ways, one of the things to take into consideration is what kind of punishment the people in question deserve for their behavior, and that is a moral assessment. I didn’t say it’s the only thing to take into consideration.

        “Hate is immoral but not totally illegal, but we are moving in that direction.”
        I don’t think hate is always immoral; it depends on the case. It’s not illegal, and it won’t be illegal, though I can’t rule out that eventually, some expressions of hatred (or what some group believe are expressions of hatred) will be illegal in the US, though that would require a Constitutional Amendment. In some other countries, some expression of hatred are illegal.

        ” And that direction is itself wrong.”
        I actually agree.

        “You cannot legislate morality.”
        Maybe I can’t, but lawmakers can, should, and do (see above and below).

        “Morality is very important to society, but it is not the domain of government, it is the domain of social interaction and by extension, if one so believes, God. You cannot punish a man into being more moral. ”
        Of course, morality is part of the domain of government. It surely isn’t all of it.
        While the government cannot punish a man into being more moral, the government can punish a man in a just manner, or in an unjust manner. Imposing a punishment that a man does not deserve is an unjust manner. And the government should not do that (as always, there is an “all other things equal” clause; maybe if the alternative is that aliens will exterminate humanity, okay, but I’m not talking about that). Those are all moral considerations.

        “Such change may be influenced by the society in which that person lives, but it cannot truly occur without the immoral person changing from within.”
        Given present tech, that is correct. With future tech, there might be other ways involving direct brain modification, but that itself might also be immoral (though that depends on a number of other factors).

        “Now run along before your feelz get hurt any more.”
        You’re getting it wrong. I’m running because I’m not going to post in any other thread in this blog. I will not take a risk of this sort of thing happening again. But that does not mean that I will not keep defending myself in this thread, as long as you keep attacking me.

        • Angra Mainyu said, on August 30, 2016 at 6:48 pm

          wtp,

          With regard to the substantive matter, I will add two more cases: abortion and animal cruelty laws.

          In the case of animal cruelty laws, non-human animals that aren’t members of society are protected, and people who engage in cruelty against them are punished. That’s because an assessment that the behavior in question is immoral, and the punishment is deserved. Moreover, it’s assessed that the use of force by the state (or governemnt, if you prefer) is morally appropriate in those cases.
          But there are those who disagree, and do not support such laws. The disagreement is a moral one.

          As for abortion, it’s legal in the US, but in many countries, it’s not, and there are many people who want to make it illegal in some parts of the US, by means of a Constitutional Amendment if required (or more frequently they disagree with the SCOTUS verdicts on the matter, and support a chance in the composition of the court).

          Someone might say that laws banning abortion intend to protect fetuses from violence, but still, even in that case, there is an implicit or explicit assessment that abortion is immoral, and further, it’s immoral enough to justify the use of government force to punish those who kill fetuses, or at least some of those who kill fetuses. Most of the debate about whether to allow or ban abortion is a moral debate.

          To be clear, I’m not suggesting that such cases are exceptions; rather, they are examples of what is usual (i.e., moral considerations are taken into account, as they should, and debates about laws imposing punishments are to a considerable extent debates about what is just and what isn’t), but they seem to be particularly apt to address your claims on the matter.

          • WTP said, on August 30, 2016 at 7:59 pm

            Oh, FFS.

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            Nulla facilisi. Nunc volutpat. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Ut sit amet orci vel mauris blandit vehicula. Nullam quis enim. Integer dignissim viverra velit. Curabitur in odio. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Ut consequat, tellus eu volutpat varius, justo orci elementum dolor, sed imperdiet nulla tellus ut diam. Vestibulum ipsum ante, malesuada quis, tempus ac, placerat sit amet, elit.

            Sed eget turpis a pede tempor malesuada. Vivamus quis mi at leo pulvinar hendrerit. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Pellentesque aliquet lacus vitae pede. Nullam mollis dolor ac nisi. Phasellus sit amet urna. Praesent pellentesque sapien sed lacus. Donec lacinia odio in odio. In sit amet elit. Maecenas gravida interdum urna. Can you possibly answer ONE SIMPLE QUESTION without droning on and on and on for eighteen f’n paragraphs? Simple question. What is it you do for a living? Integer pretium, arcu vitae imperdiet facilisis, elit tellus tempor nisi, vel feugiat ante velit sit amet mauris. Vivamus arcu. Integer pharetra magna ac lacus. Aliquam vitae sapien in nibh vehicula auctor. Suspendisse leo mauris, pulvinar sed, tempor et, consequat ac, lacus. Proin velit. Nulla semper lobortis mauris. Duis urna erat, ornare et, imperdiet eu, suscipit sit amet, massa. Nulla nulla nisi, pellentesque at, egestas quis, fringilla eu, diam.

            Donec semper, sem nec tristique tempus, justo neque commodo nisl, ut gravida sem tellus suscipit nunc. Aliquam erat volutpat. Ut tincidunt pretium elit. Aliquam pulvinar. Nulla cursus. Suspendisse potenti. Etiam condimentum hendrerit felis. Duis iaculis aliquam enim. Donec dignissim augue vitae orci. Curabitur luctus felis a metus. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. In varius neque at enim. Suspendisse massa nulla, viverra in, bibendum vitae, tempor quis, lorem.

            Donec dapibus orci sit amet elit. Maecenas rutrum ultrices lectus. Aliquam suscipit, lacus a iaculis adipiscing, eros orci pellentesque nisl, non pharetra dolor urna nec dolor. Integer cursus dolor vel magna. Integer ultrices feugiat sem. Proin nec nibh. Duis eu dui quis nunc sagittis lobortis. Fusce pharetra, enim ut sodales luctus, lectus arcu rhoncus purus, in fringilla augue elit vel lacus. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Aliquam erat volutpat. Fusce iaculis elit id tellus. Ut accumsan malesuada turpis. Suspendisse potenti. Vestibulum lacus augue, lobortis mattis, laoreet in, varius at, nisi. Nunc gravida. Phasellus faucibus. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Integer tempor lacus eget lectus. Praesent fringilla augue fringilla dui.

            • ronster12012 said, on September 2, 2016 at 9:30 am

              WTP

              I just noticed all the latin…that’s how to deal with the Great Wall of Text.

            • WTP said, on September 2, 2016 at 11:46 am

              You will note, he still has not answered my ONE SIMPLE QUESTION. But I suppose it’s all for the best.

  11. TJB said, on August 29, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Angra:

    While not all Christians consider all of the Bible inspired, or they think that some parts are no longer applicable, etc., the fact remains that discussing the morality of a behavior on the basis of such-and-such biblical interpretation is improper. In other words, that’s engaging in moral deliberation in an epistemically wrong way, which results in an overall increase likelihood of holding false moral beliefs.

    Why do you single out Christians? I suspect nearly everybody would fail your epistemic test: Marxists, feminists, environmentalists, Scientologists, Hindus, etc. How about a devotee of Ayn Rand?

    I guess the real question is whether anybody could pass your test.

    • Angra Mainyu said, on August 29, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      TJB,

      I don’t have a test, and I didn’t single out Christians.
      Rather, I mentioned Christians because I was replying to ajmacdonaldjr’s original comment, in which he implicitly but quite clearly implied that going to church was a positive factor in terms of voting quality (he mentioned a number of other factors in the context of his argument against allowing rapists, murderers, and robbers to vote). He said “church”, and in the context of this discussion, he was very probably talking about a Christian church. However, I also said in my reply to him “or whatever religion they follow”, in order to indicate that I would apply similar considerations to other religions too, even if not exactly the same ones.
      If ajmacdonaldjr’s had instead said “go to the mosque”, my point would have been about Islam; if he had talked about Marxism, then my point would have been about Marxism, etc. Again, I didn’t single out Christianity or Christians, but replied to his post.
      In hindsight, I realize it would have been much better for me not to say that, but hindsight is always 20/20 (not really, but it’s still generally a lot better than foresight).

      I would actually extend that to a number of other ideologies not usually called “religion”, as long as the people holding them do so in an epistemically irrational fashion, and they make moral claims.

      So, does anyone pass my test?
      I don’t have a test, but if I have enough information about a person (real or hypothetical), I might be able to identify both positive and negative factors, voting-wise.
      For example, having ample knowledge of economics is a positive factor, since – all other things equal – it allows the person to better compared the proposals made by the different parties or candidates. Being familiar with the situation on the ground regarding issues that are being debated with respect to passing legislation is also a positive factor. Believing that women belong at home and not in politics is a negative factor. And so on.

      Regarding the specific factors you mention, I will address it, but now I admit I actually fear the potential reaction of other posters.

      a. Marxism.
      Yes, that’s a negative influence. Marxism is a false ideology, and based on the information available so far, one should not believe it’s true. In particular, this ideology tends to negatively affect their choices with respect to economics, freedom, etc. (then again, many people misinterpret Marx, and the actual ideology they hold is less harmful).

      b. Feminism.
      Different people seem to refer to different views by that word (and also by “feminist”), and in this case, that makes the difference between a positive and a negative factor. So, I don’t have enough info to tell.

      c. Environmentalism.
      Same as b.

      d. Scientology.
      Negative.

      e. Hinduism.
      Negative (leaving aside the use of terms like “Hindu” to refer only to cultural roots only, in which case it’s neutral).

      f. Ayn Randism.
      Negative.

      Of course, when I say some factors are negative (or positive) factors, influences, etc., I’m not suggesting they are all so to the same degree. That depends on the case.

  12. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 30, 2016 at 9:51 pm

  13. Angra Mainyu said, on September 2, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    WTP,

    I have answered your repeated misrepresentations of my words, and your false and unwarranted attributions of belief and intent. Rational readers can read the exchange and see for themselves.
    As for the question, I hadn’t even seen it. I stopped reading when I saw the wall of text in Latin. But what I do for a living is irrelevant, and I fear that telling you will only help you base further ad-hominem attacks. But let’s see: I teach math for a living. What do you do for a living?

    • wtp said, on September 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      Ahh…Since I’ve been busy, I see you did come back. Direct answer to direct question, I’m a software developer/engineer. I also occasionally teach math. As a hobby. I tutor students whose math teachers have no time to teach them math as they are otherwise occupied. In most cases not their fault. In others, I’m not so sure. Though I will tip my hat to at least having some degree of understanding of fundamentals. Such things are not irrelevant. They are informative on where someone is coming from when they present ideas and can provide a common denominator through which two or more people can establish a base of understanding.

      I refer you to ronster and TJ’s responses in regard to hairsplitting, etc. and especially ronster’s response at September 3, 2016 at 12:21 pm. If you can follow his point there, I would be quite happy to engage in discussion. Assuming we can do so, I will accept responsibility for the above bad feelings We need to address one part of the equation and agree on fundamentals before diverging off into multiple directions based on unfounded assertions. Kind of like how you teach proofs, right? Ya feel me?

      Oh, and BTW…the “Latin” above is known as the Lorem Ipsum. It’s a kind of open-source text used to fill space in sample documents, etc. I believe it was also used by typesetters for practice and to produce samples. It stems from something written by Cicero (I believe, more at the link) and augmented and degraded over the centuries to suit its current purpose.

      • Angra Mainyu said, on September 3, 2016 at 5:28 pm

        wtp,

        I already replied to TJB (on September 3, 2016 at 4:45 pm). I can follow his point, but disagree.
        We’re not likely to agree about his points, it seems to me. However, there may be a way around that: most of the content of my long replies in the thread is not about any substantive matter, but rather, a reply to claims about what I said, intend, etc., so if you want to discuss a substantive matter and you make a point about it leaving aside other stuff, I offer to do the same, and my posts will almost certainly be much shorter. Still, they will not be shorter than what I need to make a sufficiently strong point, and that might require posts longer than you’re willing to read – or not; I can’t tell in advance, so if you want to give it a shot, for example if you tell me why you disagree (if you do) with one or more of my points about law and morality, I can focus on that one – or on other substantive issue you would like to discuss.

        If it turns out that that’s still too long for you, that’s alright of course. Different people can or are willing to allocate different amounts of time for on-line discussions, and in that case, we can just leave it at that.

        By the way, I’m also opposed attempts from left and the right to just people up by means of bans on certain kinds of speech. I’m for example opposed to European laws that criminalize Holocaust denial. I’m not just opposed because it would be an instance of legislating morality. I just don’t think there is a justification for restricting freedom in that manner.

        • Angra Mainyu said, on September 3, 2016 at 5:53 pm

          Also, I do think it’s much better if we address one part of the equation and agree on fundamentals before going into other directions, when it comes to any substantive matters – which is the sort of matter I much rather discuss anyway.

          • wtp said, on September 5, 2016 at 9:45 am

            Dude…you’re killing me here…but I will try, excuse me…”endeavor” to endure. Let’s go back to square one on this. Remember, keep it simple and to the point….

            A vote is an individual person’s expression of their position on an issue or candidate, yes or no?
            In a proper democracy, the votes on a single discrete issue of anyone from a college professor with a PhD in philosophy to the man who runs a lawn maintenance company to the man who works for said lawn maintenance company are counted with equal weight, yes or no?

            • Angra Mainyu said, on September 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm

              I’m not sure why you say I’m killing you, but that aside, I’ll try to address your points briefly.

              “a. A vote is an individual person’s expression of their position on an issue or candidate, yes or no?”

              If that’s an attribution of a property, not an identity, generally yes (except for votes under duress, etc.)

              Brief clarification: there are expressions of a person’s position on an issue of candidate that are not instances of voting, and which are far more precise than voting (e.g., a person’s making a more or less detailed on line comment). Also, a vote also has legal effects beyond expressing a position.

              “b. In a proper democracy, the votes on a single discrete issue of anyone from a college professor with a PhD in philosophy to the man who runs a lawn maintenance company to the man who works for said lawn maintenance company are counted with equal weight, yes or no?”
              Assuming the US and generally federal countries (details depend on the country) can count as proper democracies (we might have to discuss the concept of a democracy first; I don’t have enough info about your views so far to tell), there are different weights (mostly based on location), so the answer is negative.
              However, the different weights don’t depend on profession, except for people already elected for a specific job, directly or indirectly (I could elaborate, but that would be longer than what you already deemed too long).

              Just to be very clear, I never suggested a weighted vote based on knowledge, or PhD, etc. I don’t support any of that.

            • wtp said, on September 6, 2016 at 9:36 am

              I’m not sure why you say I’m killing you
              I just asked you two very simple yes-or-no questions. Any reasonable person (you allude to an appreciation for reasonableness above, yes?) would understand the context. Everything has a context. There is no need to drone on with qualifiers and such when answering such simple questions. It gives the impression that one is laying the groundwork for subsequent denial about what one has ostensibly agreed to. Mike likes to play this game as well. And when that fails, he falls back to putting on the clown nose. This is the problem. If your feelings are hurt because of the way you feel you are being treated, you are lacking the self-awareness of the burden you place on others when engaging in these kinds of discussions. You don’t seem to understand that everyone can play this game. Responsible, serious people do not play this game. Yes, at times some questions that appear to be simple are more complex. This was not one of those times. We are not negotiating a contract or detailing a court case where someone’s life, liberty, or property are on the line.

              So it seems we need to roll back our attempt to find a common ground on something. Let’s see if you can answer this ONE SIMPLE QUESTION…What is one plus one?

            • ronster12012 said, on September 6, 2016 at 10:31 am

              WTP

              You forgot to specify exactly which universe you wanted this arithmetical problem solved in. You can’t just go around asking questions willynilly without being specific, you should know that lol

  14. Angra Mainyu said, on September 2, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    ronster12012,

    The Latin is irrelevant to the matter at hand. What you call a “Great Wall of Text” is actually a proper defense on my part (and entirely pertinent to WTP’s attacks), plus a proper reply to WTP’s substantive point.

    • ronster12012 said, on September 2, 2016 at 5:40 pm

      I thought that you were on your way out??

      • Angra Mainyu said, on September 2, 2016 at 6:04 pm

        I am on my way out.

        As I explained before, that means I’m never going to post in another thread on this blog. I can talk to Michael elsewhere. That does not mean I will not reply to this thread, in order to defend myself. I regret having posted, but I can’t change the past, and the attacks can keep coming. In particular, there was a suggestion that somehow it was a fault on my part not to tell what I do for a living. Of course, that is not true. In fact, you and wtp should be apologizing. Instead, he seems to consider appropriate to interrogate me on personal issues not related to either the substantive matters at hand, or the fact that I was unjustly accused – repeatedly – in the thread. But whatever, I decided to respond in order to see where he’s going with that; if further attacks ensue, you can expect that I will probably defend myself.

        • ronster12012 said, on September 3, 2016 at 9:39 am

          Why so wordy?On and on about nothing….. Do you realize that to properly answer your posts in all their hairsplittingness one would require 5x the length of your already over long pieces……life is just too short especially when you don’t act on good faith by answering questions.

          • Angra Mainyu said, on September 3, 2016 at 12:07 pm

            I act on good faith, and the question that I answered when I realized I was there (which was asked in a wall of text in Latin; this is an English-speaking venue) was completely out of place. Why so wordy? I’ve been grossly misrepresented, repeatedly. I want both to defend myself and to be absolutely clear to readers, to reduce the risk that some of the false and unwarranted accusations might confound some of them.
            It’s very easy to make false and unwarranted accusations, for example the one you just made that I don’t act in good faith.

            As for the substantive point I replied to, I was thorough, not particularly wordy. If that is too long for you, you don’t have to reply (that is a substantive point so not something you have to defend yourself against).

            That said, I do think this sort of exchange takes a lot of time and it would have been far better not to get involved in the first place. But I’m not going to risk it happening again in another post. I just have to keep defending myself on this one.

            • ronster12012 said, on September 3, 2016 at 12:21 pm

              Angra

              Not that you would or could pay any attention to this but……if you really want to engage with people either here or elsewhere, try to put your points in a way that makes them easy to respond to without having to dig them out of a mass of text…. keep it short, sweet and specific…. and don’t whine about how you are leaving then go on to write War and Peace…

  15. Angra Mainyu said, on September 3, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    ronster12012,

    I’ve talked to other people, here and elsewhere, for many years. I’ve found that talking to philosophers or people who are reasonably familiar with philosophy usually (though there are exceptions) doesn’t result in serious communication problems, even when we disagree. Misunderstandings are easily resolved by means of clarification, and civil discussion is usually the norm. Also, long posts are usually not a problem: they’re long when there is a reason for that; but they’re usually concise.
    When it comes to people not , there is a significant misrepresentation problem: people often tend to attribute each other beliefs and intentions that their interlocutors do not have (most of them very negative, so they’re mostly accusations), and insist on that even after repeated clarifications. There is also a serious problem with uncivil tone, though that particular problem is prevented by strict moderation in some venues.
    When I post in the wrong place (but I do that much less frequently than before), I often end up being on the receiving end on that too, and in my defense, I often write very long posts, given detailed responses to the accusations, hoping to debunk them as thoroughly as I can, and as many times as they’re made. In those cases, I’m not aiming at continuing the exchange. I’m prepared to continue if my accusers choose to continue, but if they choose to stop accusing me, that’s of course fine with me. I’m not particularly interested in talking to people treating me in that manner. Also, I don’t “whine about how you are leaving then go on to write War and Peace”. I complain about the unjust, unwarranted and false accusations against me, which is another matter altogether.

    When it comes to the substantive matter addressed by WTP in the middle of all those accusations, my reply was comprehensive enough, but not too long. If you think it was too long, my advice would have been just to leave it aside, without given advice to the person who wrote it while misrepresenting what he’s done.
    I would also recommend that you read what your interlocutor says carefully before responding, refrain from jumping to conclusions and accuse them unfairly, and take a deep breath and wait for a few minutes before replying if you’re really angry at what you think another person said – and read again very carefully, so that you reduce the frequency of unjust attacks on others. If you think that someone’s post is too long for you to read carefully, I would suggest that you refrain from commenting altogether. That avoids unnecessary confrontations, and more importantly, it makes your behavior ethically better, as you will likely engage in unjust attacks much less frequently.

    Not that I would expect you to follow my recommendations, but they’re an adequate response to yours.

    • ronster12012 said, on September 4, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Angra

      You are seriously loving this attention, which is obviously your real goal. You keep talking about defending yourself against false accusations and misrepresentations……..but I have a free tip for you…no one gives a rats’…this is the internet not the Oxford Debating Society….

      • Angra Mainyu said, on September 4, 2016 at 2:18 pm

        ronster12012,

        That is another unwarranted and false accusations: it’s not my goal to get attention. My initial goal was to discuss a matter that caught my attention. My present primary goal is to defend myself against unfounded and false accusations, set the record straight, etc.; I’m also willing do discuss substantive matters with WTP if he so chooses.

        It’s easy to make accusations: no evidence to back them up is needed, and then a person interested in defending themselves has to spend time replying to them.
        I know you actually have come to believe that it’s “obviously” my “real goal” to get attention. It looks obvious to you. But it should look obvious to you that that is not the case.
        By the way – and purely for example -, if I were looking for attention, it would be effective to come back and engage you and others in other threads on this blog. I will not.
        Moreover, anyone familiar with my posts in philosophy-oriented blogs where discussions are civil can tell that that is not remotely my goal when posting on line. And in those places where they are not, I defend myself if I get caught in something like this exchange, but then leave.

  16. Angra Mainyu said, on September 6, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    wtp,

    After the previous serious and repeated misconstructions of my words in the thread, and the attributions of several things that weren’t in there, I think serious qualifications and clarifications are needed, in order to reduce the risk of that sort of thing happening again.
    Moreover, it’s not playing a game. It’s trying to discuss seriously and clearly. Failure to realize that I was right about the way you were treating me, and saying I’m the one placing a burden on you that I don’t realize, is also a problem.
    But more generally (i.e., without the previous history of this exchange), I don’t agree with you about understanding and context. In my experience, one of the most common problem that happen between people debating on line is that they misunderstand each other, and keep talking past each other.

    Now, asking me what is one plus one instead of addressing the serious replies I posted to your questions (even though I made them painfully short, leaving aside a lot of the things I wanted to say and which were pertinent and useful), and asking instead what’s 1 plus 1 is a sign that you’re not willing to discuss the matters in terms that will result in any productive exchange. What’s the point in asking me that? Of course I know what 1 plus 1 is, and of course you know that I know, so unless you’re trying to make a point about context by bringing up modulo two or something like that (which would be seriously out of place in this context, by the way), I don’t see how this is progress. 1 + 1 equals 2.

    If you’re interested in any half-serious short discussion of the matter that you brought up in your previous post (i.e., whether every vote weighs the same in a proper democracy), after further consideration I realize that your “on a single discrete issue” expression might be interpreted in a very narrow way, making it possible in a federal country, but probably not relevantly so. In any event, in the US, not everyone’s vote weighs the same.

    I will give an argument that might be too long for you, but giving an overly short answer as before has proven unfruitful – your reply didn’t even address my points -, so I might as well make better and relevant arguments in case you or any readers (if there are or will be any) are interested.

    First, let’s imagine that in some hypothetical country called “Elit”, people’s votes are weighed on the basis of their college degrees.
    The vote of a person with a PhD in philosophy weighs 14. The vote of a person with no college degree weighs 1. The vote of people with a BoS is math weighs, say, 5.4, and so on. People who fall into more than one category are automatically given the maximum of the numbers they would get from each (e.g., if a person has a BoS in math and a PhD in philosophy, her vote weighs 7).
    Surely, that would be a case in which votes do not weigh all the same.

    But let’s say that due to pro-democracy protests, the electoral system of Elit is modified.
    Instead of direct weighed voting, they institute an Electoral College, with representatives of people with a philosophy PhD, a math PhD, etc., including people with no college degree.
    People with a philosophy PhD are given 1 elector every 50 people (i.e., 1 every 50 people with a philosophy PhD), whereas people with no college degree are given 1 elector every 700 people. People in more than one category are assigned to the one that gets 1 elector for the smallest number of people; if there is a tie, the person may freely choose which category to vote in.
    In each category, the system is either a “winner takes all” system, or a proportional system.
    Now, people with no college degree are technically not voting for President, but for electors representing people with no college degree. Similarly, people with a PhD in philosophy are technically voting for electors representing them in the presidential election, and so on. Surely, this is still a system of weighed voting, in any relevant sense of the term. Not everyone’s vote weighs the same.

    Let’s consider now the states of California and Wyoming, and let’s suppose the Constitution had no electoral college, but each Californian vote weighed 1, and each Wyomingite vote weighed 3, based on the formula that depends on each state’s population. Surely, that would not be a case in which every vote weighs the same. But then, neither is the actual system, with the Electoral College. Making the election indirect does not change the fact that votes do not weigh the same.

    In the actual case, we have the following numbers:

    Population estimates (2015) are 39,144,818 for California and 586,107 for Wyoming, whereas the latest Census says 37,254,503 and 563,767 respectively (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population ).
    The number of electoral votes (given partly on the basis of the Census, and according to the US Constitution) are 55 for California, 3 for Wyoming (source: https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/allocation.html )
    That entails (going by the estimate) that there is one electoral vote every 711724 people in California (without decimals), and one every 195369 people in Wyoming.
    That would yield that the vote of a Wyomingite weighs more than 3.6 times the vote of a Californian, assuming those were all eligible to vote. In reality, things are more complicated because not all inhabitants are eligible to vote (due to a number of factors, like age, citizenship, etc.), but even though that might change the number to some extent, likely it would be at least 3:1. We also get that result if we pick the number from the Census instead of the estimate.
    So, in short, in a Presidential election, the vote of a Wyomingite weighs more than 3 times the vote of a Californian (save for some details, but generally).

    There are several other issues, so it’s not the case that each vote has the same weight in the US, and even if they did, there is the issue of people not permitted to vote, e.g., due to age. You could argue the US isn’t a proper democracy, but there are other issues regarding the weight of a vote. For example:

    Let’s say in country A, there is no federal system, and the vote of every person allowed to vote weighs the same, but people under 18 aren’t allowed to vote.
    Country B has a system that is just like country A, with the only difference that it also allows people from 16 to 18 to vote, but each of their votes weighs 0.5. Is country B a less proper democracy than country A due to the fact that B has votes with different weight, even though B enfranchises a lot more people, even if only partly so? If giving people 0.5 a vote generally less democratic than giving them no vote whatsoever? It’s at least not clear to me that it is.

    • wtp said, on September 6, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      Let the record show that this wall of text presented by Angara is in answer to my simple question above…”What is one plus one”
      https://aphilosopher.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/do-we-want-rapists-robbers-and-murderers-voting/#comment-142784

      You cannot be serious.

      Please just go away like you said you would. I do not have time for your self-absorbed, hair-splitting ramblings. I pity your poor students.

      • Angra Mainyu said, on September 6, 2016 at 5:12 pm

        That’s another unjust personal attack. You pity my poor students, right?
        You’re the one behaving unethically here, and also being epistemically irrational in the beliefs you hold about me.
        Should I pity your students?
        No. I’m being rational, and I realize that most people compartmentalize a lot, and can be competent and even caring in their jobs, while being epistemically irrational in other aspects of their lives (e.g., religion, in-group beliefs on different internet forums, etc.), and immorally towards third parties as a result (as a result because they have all sorts of unwarranted beliefs about those third parties). Your behavior is just more unethical behavior on line.
        As for my going away, again, I will never risk posting in another thread over here. But if you keep attacking me in this thread, you can expect that I will very probably continue to fight back. It’s up to you.

      • ronster12012 said, on September 7, 2016 at 3:35 am

        WTP

        Not being an expert in anything but it does seem that we are dealing Asperger him/her(my money is on the her) self. I am not saying this to be nasty, or ad homish etc, but it is what it is. I have a mate who has many great qualities, but is quite ‘spergy. Steam turbines, Ford F Series truck, Landrovers, Sydney(Oz) public transit trains and buses….my god, get onto one of those topics and you are in for a rivetting and informative 4 hours and when it is over you will know far more than you ever wanted to about those topics that you had somehow avoided your entire life….and if you say that Landrovers are a heap of pommy shit(which is actually true) or some other heresy you get bonus tuition…lol So,yes I see similarities..

        • Angra Mainyu said, on September 7, 2016 at 3:53 am

          Actually, you’re dealing with unjust accusations, attributions of beliefs and intentions to me that I do not have, etc., on your part.

          • ronster12012 said, on September 7, 2016 at 9:09 am

            Angra

            I didn’t say that to be unjust,hurtful or to falsely accuse, just saying what I see.

            • Angra Mainyu said, on September 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm

              When I said that you’re dealing with unjust accusations, attributions of beliefs and intentions to me that I do not have, etc., that was a response to your claim that “it does seem that we are dealing Asperger him/her(my money is on the her) self”. The reply was not that the claim that your claim “it does seem that we are dealing Asperger him/her(my money is on the her) self” contained unjust accusations, attributions of beliefs and intentions to me that I do not have, etc. That claim is false (though it might seem like that to you), but it’s not an accusation, attribution of belief, etc.
              Rather, the point is that the exchange on which you based your claim “it does seem that we are dealing Asperger him/her(my money is on the her) self” is full of unjust accusations, attributions of beliefs and intentions to me that I do not have, etc., and that by failing to realize what the exchange has been about and what has been going on here, you come up with “explanations” that have no basis.

            • ronster12012 said, on September 8, 2016 at 4:28 am

              Angra

              An accusation implies wrongdoing. I am merely noting what I see. Anyone who writes as much as you do about as little as you do is either Aspy or OCD IMO.

      • TJB said, on September 7, 2016 at 7:48 am

        Ball was definitely “in.”

  17. Angra Mainyu said, on September 8, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    ronster12012,

    Yes, an accusation implies wrongdoing.
    As I said in the post you just replied to, the claim “it does seem that we are dealing Asperger him/her(my money is on the her) self” is false, but it’s not an accusation. And you’re not noting what you see. You’re noting what you believe you see, because you don’t realize what’s been going on in this thread, because you still do not realize how my posts have been unjustly misconstrued, how I have been attributed beliefs and intentions that I do not have, and with no good reason to attribute them to me, etc.
    As for the claim that “Anyone who writes as much as you do about as little as you do is either Aspy or OCD IMO.”, your opinion would imply (given empirical evidence) that such conditions are widespread among philosophers who discuss things on the internet (among many others). But you simply have no good reason to make such an assessment.

    • Angra Mainyu said, on September 8, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      (more precisely, an accusation implies that the person making a claim implies it’s wrongdoing. It might turn out not to be. But that does not seem to be the issue in this case.)


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