Many of us feel that we have a duty to participate in politics in one way or another. But a lot of political participation seems to be causally futile. Maybe the most obvious example of this is voting in very large elections (such as a national presidential election). The chances of casting the deciding vote are astronomically small. So a natural question arises: why would we have a duty to do something that is almost guaranteed to make no relevant causal impact? Chris Freiman, a philosopher at the college of William & Mary, proposes an answer: we have no such duty. In this interview, he addresses a number of objections to this response, including objections from free-riding, complicity with injustice, expressive duty, and, of course, the ever-popular "but if everyone thought this way...". We conclude with a discussion of Peter Singer-inspired arguments to the effect that not only are we allowed to ignore politics, but we are in fact morally obligated to do so.
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For more on Chris Freiman's work, see his website.
0:00 - Intro to Chris Freiman and public goods
5:12 - Futile political participation, voting, thresholds
18:34 - "If everybody thought this way" and free-riding
33:55 - Complicity with injustice and accepting state benefits
43:09 - You can always leave, an obligation to tax evasion?
54:52 - Ethics of complaining, expressive duties
1:08:27 - The duty to ignore politics and the train to Singertown
1:28:48 - Democracy, climate change