Do majority votes or opinions have any inherent moral authority?

The saying “if everyone went and jumped off a bridge, would you jump off too?” is pretty common, in numerous variations and permutations. But do the opinions of the majority carry automatic moral weight?

For example, two candidates are running in a national election. One candidate maintains again and again the existence of a particular fact and bases a substantial part of their campaign on this fact’s existence. The day before the election, you personally discover that this fact is actually wrong, but you walk away without any solid proof and do not have the chance to widely circulate what you found out. You have the power to rig the election to favor the other candidate. It appears that you may have to do so because the candidate asserting this particular fact is running significantly ahead in the polls and the polls also indicate that many of the people support this candidate because they believe that this particular fact exists.

Leaving aside any reliance on people finding out about the fact after the election is already over - would it be morally right to rig the election against this candidate? Is there something morally special or significant about the majority’s decision, even when it is based on an erroneous set of facts or an erroneous conclusion?

Yes, there is. It’s the agreement that we all make (either implicitly or explicitly) to abide by the decision of the majority. But other than that, no, there is nothing inherently moral about a majority decision.

Too convoluted IMHO. Why not just ask the other question instead of trying to bring this in?

Of course not. IIRC the majority decision in Germany prior to WWII (and even during it for much of the war) was in support of the Nazi party…and by extension the extermination/elimination of the Jews. Now, I doubt the vast majority of Germans REALLY knew what was going on…but they supported the government and mostly supported the crack down on the Jews (if not the slaughter of them necessarily).
That said, this nation is founded on the principal that the majority rules. Of course, there are all kinds of checks and balances in place…including those on the population itself (such as the EC). In the end though by being a citizen you buy into the concept that if the majority of voters vote for an issue or a candidate that we will abide by the results…at least until the next election or the next vote. THATS the saving grace in our system…that even though we were stupid enough to elect some schmo to office (yeah, I’m probably thinking of the same current president you are), or to pass some dumb ass and ill conceived state program, that we can always rectify this in a few years. It may be slow, but its definitely self correcting…eventually. :stuck_out_tongue:


And it saves us from roving bands with machetes. Which is a good thing if you like stability & security.

No, not inherent.

Responsible democratic government, while being elected by majoritarianism, must prevent tyranny of the majority.

IIRC, the Nazis never got more than a third of the popular vote.

“Tyranny of the majority” is a buzz phrase which basically means, “I refuse to abide by the principle of majority rule whenever I disagree with the majority.”

I’m not sure that anything has an inherent moral authority.

No, it means preventing lynch mobs and discriminatory legislation aimed at the target group du jour. It basically means, “I refuse to abide by the principle of majority rule whenever they’re smashing my windows and denying me basic human rights while the law turns a blind eye.”

If you live in a free society, such as most western deomcracies, the answer is absolutely not. No single election is going to make or break things, and even if you can’t get this “fact” out before the eleciton, you can do so afterwards. There will be another eleciton in a few years, and things can be righted then, if they need to be. There is always the possibility that you got it wrong (especially if it’s some last minute discovery), and it’s not worth subverting the very process you seek to save.

Now, if you live in an oppressive society like the former USSR or the current NK, then I think any method of resistence against the government (short of terrorism) is justified. I wouldn’t stop at rigging the election-- I’d advocate the violent overthrow of the governement.

I think it was less actually (in the mid-20’s IIRC). Of course, recall that this was in the early days when the republic was still operating…and also that it wasn’t the same system as we have in the US. Though the Nazi’s didn’t get a majority of the vote, I believe they got enough to take control and apoint Hitler Chancellor (as well as take control of whatever they called their senate…I forget and am too lazy to look it up), at least to the point where they could eventually dismantle to old republic from within.

But the point I was making is that after the republic was dismantled the people supported the Nazi party and Hitler in power. They were going back to work, the economy was picking up…and frankly Hitler was taking care of the Jew ‘problem’ for them…or making them the scapegoats.

I’d say its a safe bet that the majority of Germans, prior to WWII (or prior to '42 when the Germans started running into serious snags) supported the Nazi’s and Hitler.