[SydPhil] UNSW Philosophy Seminar, 20 March, 12.30-2pm, Lachlan Umbers: ‘Compulsory Voting – A Defence’,

Heikki Ikaheimo h.ikaheimo at unsw.edu.au
Thu Mar 15 17:05:47 AEDT 2018



You are invited to the joint Philosophy & Practical Justice Initiative Seminar: ‘Compulsory Voting – A Defence’ by Lachlan Umbers (UNSW, Sydney).

Abstract: Turnout is in decline in established democracies around the world. Where, in the mid-1800s, 70%- 80% of eligible voters regularly participated in US Presidential elections, turnout has averaged just 56% since 1972. Average turnout in general elections in the UK has fallen from 76.64% during the period 1945-1992, to 64.68% since 1997. Average turnout in Canadian federal elections has fallen from 74.52% during the period 1940-1979, to 62.5% since 2000. For most democrats, these numbers are a cause for alarm. ‘Rule by the people’ looks far less attractive with an effective electorate of only 60% of the population. Compulsory voting is among the most effective means of raising turnout. However, compulsory voting is also controversial. Most of us think that coercion may only be employed against the citizenry if it is backed by a justification of the right kind. Opponents of compulsory voting charge that no such justification is available. This paper resists this line of argument in two ways. First, I offer an argument from free-riding which, though gestured towards by others, and widely criticised, has yet to be defended in any depth. Second, I consider a range of objections to compulsory voting as such, arguing that none succeeds.

About the speaker: Lachlan Umbers is a post-doctoral research fellow with the Climate Justice stream of the Practical Justice Initiative. He was awarded his doctorate in philosophy from the Australian National University in February 2018. His dissertation engaged in a series of debates concerning the justification of contemporary democratic institutions, including compulsory voting, bans on vote buying, majority rule, and universal suffrage. He has ongoing research interests in democratic theory, as well as distributive justice, moral philosophy, meta-ethics, and applied ethics – especially climate ethics. More information can be found on his website here<https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/ebARCp8AJQtpyy47TDeHPS?domain=lachlanumbers.com>.

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Date: 20 March, 2018
Time: 12.30-2pm
Location: Room 310, Level 3, Morven Brown Building, UNSW Kensington
Registration: Not required
Map reference: C20<http://fmtoolbox.unsw.edu.au/comms/KensingtonCampus.pdf>

e:h.ikaheimo at unsw.edu.au<mailto:h.ikaheimo at unsw.edu.au>
t: (02) 9385 2373

RSVP<mailto:h.ikaheimo at unsw.edu.au>

UNSW Arts & Social Sciences
UNSW Sydney,
NSW 2052

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