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The ethics of asymmetric politics

Lovett, Adam ORCID: 0000-0001-8728-5624 (2023) The ethics of asymmetric politics. Politics, Philosophy & Economics, 22 (1). 3 - 30. ISSN 1470-594X

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1470594X221133445


Polarization often happens asymmetrically. One political actor radicalizes, and the results reverberate through the political system. This is how the deep divisions in contemporary American politics arose: the Republican Party radicalized. Republican officeholders began to use extreme legislative tactics. Republican voters became animated by contempt for their political rivals and by the defense of their own social superiority. The party as a whole launched a wide-ranging campaign of voter suppression and its members endorsed violence in the face of electoral defeat. This paper is about how such asymmetric polarization affects everyone else’s obligations. My core claim is that two kinds of relationship – civic friendship and non-subordination – underpin critical democratic norms. Republican misbehavior has severed cross-partisan civic friendships. Their authoritarianism forfeits their claim to non-subordination. The former means that non-Republicans need not justify policy on public grounds. The latter undercuts Republicans’ claim to enjoy minority vetoes when out of power and it gives their rivals reason to disobey the laws that Republicans make when they are in power. More generally, when one political actor contravenes the proper norms of democratic politics, their opposition is not bound by those norms.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2022 13:45
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2024 19:21

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