[MaFLa] Invitation to the Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation on` Competence and Equality: An Essay on Competence and the Right to Vote `Attila Mráz- 3 October, 4.00 PM

Krisztina Biber Biberk at ceu.edu
Tue Sep 20 11:54:59 CEST 2016

The Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to the Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation
Attila Mráz


Competence and Equality: An Essay on Competence and the Right to Vote

Supervisor: Zoltán Miklósi

Members of the Defense Committee:
Daniel Viehoff (The University Sheffield)
János Kis (CEU)
Chair: David Weberman

The defense will be held on Monday, 3 October from 4.00 PM in Nador 15 room 106


This thesis argues that (i) below a certain threshold of minimal competence, political equality provides conflicting considerations both for and against universal franchise including less than minimally competent citizens, while (ii) on or above the threshold of minimal competence, requirements of political quality and hence competence provide insufficient reasons against equal franchise in liberal democracies. This sharply contrasts with received views that competence-based exclusion and equality of the franchise are two different compromises struck between political equality and political quality.

In Part I, I address franchise restrictions below the competence threshold. In Chapter 1, I argue for an interpretation of the "all subjected principle" that pro tanto requires that those less-than-minimally competent should be enfranchised. Chapter 2 examines Thomas Christiano's pro tanto argument for excluding those less-than-minimally competent from the electorate. I show here that an account justifying the right to vote by interests grounded in minimal competence-the capacity to make moral judgments-can only argue that excluding the insufficiently competent is permissible, but not required. Chapter 3 criticizes a pro tanto argument requiring the enfranchisement of less-than-minimally competent citizens based on the expressive or symbolic significance of voting. I reconstruct several versions of the argument to show that the best version can only offer a relatively weak pro tanto case for inclusion, and even that case is in some doubt. Chapter 4 provides two pro tanto arguments for exclusion based on political equality as between citizens, on the one hand, and as between 'mere' citizens and their representatives, on the other. I argue that political equality requires us to avoid an excessive risk of votes not backed up by sufficiently independent voting-relevant judgments, which gives us pro tanto reasons to exclude those who are unable to form an independent judgment, and would serve as vehicles of someone else's electoral will. I argue,though, for a rather permissive, socially embedded interpretation of what independence in moral judgment requires. Chapter 5 criticizes an external competence-based restriction on the franchise, showing that Jason Brennan's argument from a right against incompetent rule to an alleged right to competent voters is unsound.

In Part II, I justify equal voting power despite variations in voting competence above the threshold. Chapter 6 criticizes Thomas Christiano's argument for the same conclusion. I argue in this chapter that one of his arguments is necessary but insufficient to establish equal voting power, but the other one is incompatible with representative democracy. In Chapter 7, I present a novel account of equal voting power despite inequalities of competence. Instead of arguing that political equality is a constraint on the pursuit of substantive equality, I show that in liberal democracies, substantive requirements of equality and the requirement of competent government they trigger do not even conflict with political equality and equal voting power specifically. So, since political equality pro tanto requires equal voting power, and competence requirements do not conflict with this requirement, equal voting power is all things considered required despite variations in competence above the threshold.

Krisztina Biber
Department of Philosophy
Central European University
Nador u. 9. | 1051 Budapest, Hungary
Office: + 36.1.327.3806[resource://skype_ff_extension-at-jetpack/skype_ff_extension/data/call_skype_logo.png]
biberk at ceu.edu<mailto:biberk at ceu.edu> | www.ceu.edu<http://www.ceu.edu>

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