Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lunch Chat (10/18): A Vote for Reason

As the political wrangling heats up heading into the presidential election, I thought we might talk about some of the pathologies familiar in political discourse. For background, you might read this column in "The Stone" by Michael Lynch on the role that reason might well play in our thinking about how to cast our vote. Lynch writes:
Suppose I offer, at no charge, to drop a drug in the water supply that would cause almost everyone in the country to vote like you this November. You would probably feel at least a little bit tempted to take the deal. Presidential politics is a matter of grave import, after all. Still — many of us would hesitate, and rightly so. There seems to be something really wrong with manipulating people to believe things even when the stakes are high. We want to convince our opponents, yes, but we want them to be convinced by our reasons.
And yet, many seem content to attempt to influence our vote by non-rational means. Is this simply the ever-present debate between ends and means? What should we care more about in this arena: product or process?

I propose that we inject a little philosophical rigor into presidential politics leading up to Election Day — stay tuned to the blog for topics. So if you're a "politics-wonk" (of either or neither political party), stop on by the Philosophy Lounge on Thursdays at noon for some pizza and reasoned discussion.