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A cogent question for voters.

  1. Aug 15, 2012 #1
    I found a discussion on Physics Forum of utilitarianism v. deontology. The discussion is rather old, and it was not framed on the issue that baffles many voters, today: the coming presidential election. It did make reference to a hypothetical choice between Hitler and Stalin in regard to the lesser of two evils, but they are far more patent and extreme cases of evil and few US voters would find them relevant.

    A great many US voters, particularly progressives, whether Democrats or independent voters, are greatly troubled by the choice that lies ahead. It is in behalf of such voters as these, among whom I am included, that I open the question for forum participants. Participants who are not included in the group I have just described need not feel their contribution is less valued. Indeed, I should like to read a discussion in which the arguments are not by political advocates and are based on explicit moral or ethical premises from which the consequences are drawn. A tall order, I think!

    What do philosophers have to say about making the following choice: to vote for the re-election of a president who has already committed serious crimes or to vote for a candidate of conscience who has little chance of winning and thereby make the election of another candidate more likely, one who is possibly worse than the current president?

    The above question should be taken as a hypothetical situation without reference to any real people. It is the lesser of two evils problem cast in terms of a presidential election in which there are two major parties from which the future president would undoubtedly be chosen, as well as a number of other candidates who are, for many, candidates of conscience with next to no chance of election.

    I am reminded of Yogi Berra's reported aphorism: When you come to a fork in the road, take it! In this case, when you come to a presidential election, vote!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 15, 2012 #2
    Debates over the lesser of two evils and the morality of candidates are a common political ploy to distract from the real issues on the table which, in this case, is the future of the republican party. For decades now republicans have been losing ground to the growing minorities in the US which favor the democrats and in recent years even young republicans have been abandoning the party and fundamentalist churches en mass. The latest projections are the party will not survive another two decades unless it radically reinvents itself.

    Hence the division of the republican party with the rise of the Tea Party and all the screaming and yelling and gnashing of teeth on the far right as a way of life slowly dies with them. It isn't the first time American politics have had to reinvent themselves and I'm sure it won't be the last, but the sooner we get this over with in my opinion the better for everyone concerned. Either the republican party radically reinvents itself or it will be replaced with something else. It has come to symbolize old money, old values, and now old people from a generation many hold responsible for the current economic crisis.
  4. Aug 15, 2012 #3
    Thanks wuliheron for sharing your thoughts, but I had hoped for:
    " I should like to read a discussion in which the arguments are not by political advocates and are based on explicit moral or ethical premises from which the consequences are drawn. "
  5. Aug 15, 2012 #4


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