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In Our NameThe Ethics of Democracy$
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Eric Beerbohm

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154619

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154619.001.0001

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Paper Stones

Paper Stones

The Ethics of Participation

(p.51) Chapter 2 Paper Stones
In Our Name

Eric Beerbohm

Princeton University Press

This chapter proposes an ethics of participation for unjust political environments. It develops the idea of democracy as shared liability to address the problem of marginality and redundancy in electoral settings. It argues that it is a mistake to conceive of a citizen as aiming to swing an election with his/her votes alone, because this relies on unnecessarily contentious theories of causation, action, and intention. The key is to expose the metaphysical commitments so that we can defend instances of participation in which citizens do make a difference by their individual votes and through the joint action they perform with those who share their political convictions. The chapter runs an argument from complicity, which is premised on the actual institutional role of the citizen: we have a defeasible moral reason to participate in elections where citizens can make a causal contribution against injustice.

Keywords:   participation, democracy, shared liability, marginality, redundancy, participation, citizens, complicity, elections, injustice

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