What’s wrong with vote buying
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Almost everyone would agree that vote buying is morally wrong, and that prohibitions on vote buying are morally justified. Yet, recently, several philosophers have argued that vote buying is morally permissible, and (in some cases) that it should be legally permitted. This paper begins by examining and criticising arguments that have been offered in defence of vote buying. I then go on to consider existing attempts to explain the wrongness of vote buying, arguing that none is wholly successful. I then advance a novel account of the wrongness of vote buying. Vote buying is objectionable, I argue, because it involves a failure of respect for one’s fellow citizens as autonomous agents. I also consider the implications of my account for a number of other controversial practices.
KeywordsVote buying Markets Respect Autonomy Equality Voting
For helpful comments and criticisms on earlier versions of this paper, not all of which I have been able to address, I thank Geoffrey Brennan, Lisa Hill, Philip Pettit, Nicholas Southwood, Laura Valentini, and Daniel Wodak, together with an anonymous reviewer for Philosophical Studies, and a seminar audience at the Australian National University.
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