Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Open Letter to Voters: Please Don't

Voting is ultimately the act by which one chooses how to use another person’s property, usually against his will. To deprive others of their property is an evil, and everyone who votes participates in this evil. In the study of ethics, there are two kinds of participation in evil: formal and material cooperation. Formal cooperation is a deliberate choice to support an evil end. For example: If you vote for a candidate because he supports torture, you are a formal cooperant in electing a man who supports torture. A vote for him means that you ideologically support torture. Material cooperation in an evil is performing an action that makes the evil possible, even if the cooperant does not approve of the evil act itself. For example, if you vote for the candidate not because he supports torture, but because the other candidates support torture and eugenics. You are a material cooperant in torture, because you helped elect a man who supports torture. Your vote in fact enables the act of torture, though it may not have been done for that reason. One may never be a formal cooperant in an evil, but one may sometimes be a material cooperant in an evil, if the evil is remote enough, as is discussed below.
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