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A Moral Defense of the ‘Moral Values’ Voter

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Abstract

How should citizens in a democracy decide for whom to vote? Liberal political philosophers, following Rawls, have held that voters should think of the candidate as a proxy for the policies he or she will predictably help put in place, and then vote according to which policies are best supported by the balance of public reasons. Call this the proxy model. I reject the proxy model as too restrictive a moral requirement on voting, but accept that citizens are obligated to use some reasons rather than others. In particular, voters should only weigh considerations that are morally relevant. These may include factors like the character of the candidate. I argue that this alternative to the proxy model is more faithful to liberal theory and places a more reasonable set of demands on voters, given what political science has taught us about voting behavior.

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