[ExI] Conscientious objections

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Wed Nov 14 19:00:42 UTC 2012

On Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 4:25 AM, Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com> wrote:
> I am inclined to agree. However, not voting does not represent an "action"
> either. All in all, the most plausible argument against voting is that the
> (minimal) time involved could be put at better use.
> In fact, I have the soul-saving habit of doing at least a little something
> during the election days when I am not voting that qualifies as "action" for
> me, to the simbolic effect that the time spared is not owed, nor devoted, to
> an indulgence to fundamental laziness... :-)

Well said, and the first plausible alternative to voting that I have heard
in...a long time at least, possibly ever.

Not voting, and doing no effective alternative, is simply doing nothing.
It is not a protest - it is, essentially, passive acceptance of the
results, no matter what one might claim otherwise.

On Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 12:14 AM, Max More <max at maxmore.com> wrote:
> How is voting "effective action"? You must know that it is, in fact,
> completely ineffective. To pretend that it is effective as more than an
> (invisible) act of signaling, you have to make some extreme assumptions (the
> race depends on the outcome in one state, and that outcome depends on YOUR
> vote).

Not so much.  As pointed out already, even if third parties have no
chance of winning *yet*, if they at least lose by less-bad margins,
that sets the stage for them to be able to win in later elections.

Further, by refusing to vote in US elections just because the
Presidential race is not significantly affected by single votes, that
means one also does not vote in state and local races, where one
vote can have more of an effect.

For example, California's Proposition 37 - which would have
required vague but scary labeling of many GMO foods, and was
basically anti-science - lost 4,845,291 to 4,285,787.  That's about
560K difference - and while, yes, 1/560K is still not much, it's far
more impact than any single vote in California had on the
Presidential race.

Better example: Santa Clara County's Measure M, a proposal to
cap the local hospital's administrators' salaries to twice the
state Governor's pay.  That is, the execs were making about
$600K; this cut their pay to about $200K.  Passed 24,477 to
22,709 - a difference of only 1,768 votes.  And yet, the Yes on M
side had virtually (maybe literally) no funding for a campaign,
while the No on M side was funded with the hospital's money.
The argument was the typical "but other execs of this type of
organization are making absurd salaries, so we need to pay
absurd salaries too" - and from what I'm hearing, that's why the
measure lost.  This could set a precedent for similarly libertarian
laws elsewhere.  If a couple thousand more libertarians had
decided to skip voting because California's Presidential vote was
in the can, well...I do believe that's similar to the tragedy of the

> There are many kinds of (much more effective) action than voting.

This is true.  However, the argument is usually phrased as voting
or doing nothing, and this case was no exception.  No more
effective alternatives were presented or seriously considered.

> In
> addition, you are logically wrong to say that hypocrisy invalidates an
> objection.

Depends on which meaning of "invalidates" you are talking about.
I'm talking about the ability to convince people - which, I'll admit,
is not so amenable to logic, but is the ultimate external objective
of objecting.  Claiming to believe a thing, but then taking actions
that undermine that thing, makes it less credible that one actually
believes that thing, and thus fails to convince others to likewise
believe that thing.

Which gets to the point: by not voting (in a US or similar
election), one is placing a nonzero external cost on the rest of
the community to support one's views.  This may be almost
imperceptibly tiny at federal levels (the Presidential race), but
it exists nonetheless - and it gets larger for more local races,
which are not excused merely because the Presidential race
is on the same ballot.  If one fails to convince the community,
then this cost is not paid - in other words, one's objection is

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