Developing Ethical Abstention Contextualism

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101067703.

Duration: April 2023 – March 2025

Many enfranchised citizens in democratic states voluntarily refrain from voting in political elections. DevEthAC approaches this phenomenon of abstention or non-voting from a normative perspective and seeks to develop a distinct normative theory of non-voting. The project has three objectives in particular:

  • To demonstrate, by philosophical argument, that citizens of a democracy have a pro tanto moral right not to vote such that they can engage in politically and conscientiously motivated forms of non-voting without morally wronging anyone.
  • To define clearly the scope and limits of citizens’ right not to vote, both by clarifying what precise forms of non-voting the right covers (and which it does not), and by illuminating the extent to which rival moral considerations constrain the right not to vote.
  • To articulate and justify an institutional account of how a democracy’s electoral system can appropriately absorb and register non-voting in the electoral aftermath, when a share of citizens actually have not voted.

By pursuing these objectives, DevEthAC advances philosophical scholarship on the ethics of voting, electoral systems design, and compulsory voting, while also furthering the broader public reflection on a salient feature of contemporary democratic politics.

European Union