Voting and Causal Responsibility

Can it be rational for someone to vote in a democratic election on the grounds that she intends to make a difference to the outcome? Standard rational choice theory gives a negative answer. But this negative answer hinges on an assumption about causal efficacy that has been effectively challenged by Alvin Goldman and Richard Tuck. The assumption is that causal efficacy requires that, if one had voted differently, the outcome would have been different. Against this, Goldman and Tuck contend that a vote is causally efficacious just in case it is among the votes that are, in a suitable way, sufficient for the outcome. This chapter critically examines the Goldman/Tuck account. It finds reason to doubt both its explanatory and normative ambitions.

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