Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

An Adversarial Ethics for Campaigns and Elections

  • Samuel Bagg and Isak Tranvik

Abstract

Existing approaches to campaign ethics fail to adequately account for the “arms races” incited by competitive incentives in the absence of effective sanctions for destructive behaviors. By recommending scrupulous devotion to unenforceable norms of honesty, these approaches require ethical candidates either to quit or lose. To better understand the complex dilemmas faced by candidates, therefore, we turn first to the tradition of “adversarial ethics,” which aims to enable ethical participants to compete while preventing the most destructive excesses of competition. As we demonstrate, however, elections present even more difficult challenges than other adversarial contexts, because no centralized regulation is available to halt potential arms races. Turning next to recent scholarship on populism and partisanship, we articulate an alternative framework for campaign ethics, which allows candidates greater room to maneuver in their appeals to democratic populations while nevertheless requiring adherence to norms of social and political pluralism.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Achen, Christopher H. and Bartels, Larry M.. 2016. Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Ahlquist, John S., Ichino, Nahomi, Wittenberg, Jason, and Ziblatt, Daniel. 2018. “How Do Voters Perceive Changes to the Rules of the Game? Evidence from the 2014 Hungarian Elections.” Journal of Comparative Economics 46(4): 906–19.
Applbaum, Arthur Isak. 2000. Ethics for Adversaries: The Morality of Roles in Public and Professional Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Arrow, Kenneth. 1951. Social Choice and Individual Values. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Baderin, Alice. 2014. “Two Forms of Realism in Political Theory.” European Journal of Political Theory 13(2): 132–53.
Bagg, Samuel. 2016. “Between Critical and Normative Theory: Predictive Political Theory as a Deweyan Realism.” Political Research Quarterly 69(2): 233–44.
Bagg, Samuel. 2017. “When Will a Darwinian Approach Be Useful for the Study of Society?” Politics, Philosophy & Economics 16(3): 259–81.
Bagg, Samuel. 2018a. “Can Deliberation Neutralise Power?European Journal of Political Theory 17(3): 257–79.
Bagg, Samuel. 2018b. “The Power of the Multitude: Answering Epistemic Challenges to Democracy.” American Political Science Review 112(4): 891904.
Bagg, Samuel. 2018c. “What Makes a Political Theory Political? A Comment on Waldron.” Political Studies Review 16(3): 184–91.
Bartels, Larry M. 2002. “Beyond the Running Tally: Partisan Bias in Political Perceptions.” Political Behavior 24(2): 117150.
Beerbohm, Eric. 2012. In Our Name: The Ethics of Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Beerbohm, Eric. 2016. “The Ethics of Electioneering.” Journal of Political Philosophy 24(4): 381405.
Boyte, Harry C. 2010. Everyday Politics: Reconnecting Citizens and Public Life. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Bretherton, Luke. 2014. Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship, and the Politics of a Common Life. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Connolly, William E. 1991. Identity, Difference: Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Disch, Lisa. 2011. “Toward a Mobilization Conception of Democratic Representation.” American Political Science Review 105(1): 100114.
Dresden, Jennifer Raymond and Howard, Marc Morjé. 2016. “Authoritarian Backsliding and the Concentration of Political Power.” Democratization 23(7): 1122–43.
Galston, William. 1991. “Toughness as a Political Virtue.” Social Theory and Practice 17(2): 175–97.
Galston, William. 2010. “Realism in Political Theory.” European Journal of Political Theory 9(4): 385411.
Galston, William. 2018. Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Grattan, Laura. 2016. Populism’s Power: Radical Grassroots Democracy in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Green, Jeffrey Edward. 2009. The Eyes of the People: Democracy in an Age of Spectatorship. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hayes, Chrystal. 2018. “Eric Holder Says Michelle Obama Was Wrong: ‘When They Go Low, We Kick Them.’” USA Today.
Heath, Joseph. 2006. “An Adversarial Ethic for Business: Or When Sun-Tzu Met the Stakeholder.” Journal of Business Ethics 72(4): 359–74.
Hellmann, Jessie. 2016. “Clinton: ‘Ugliness,’ and ‘Bigotry’ the Best Trump Can Do.” The Hill. http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/296252-clinton-calls-trumps-birther-comments-as-ugly-and-bigoted.
Ingham, Sean. 2019. “Why Arrow’s Theorem Matters for Political Theory Even if Preference Cycles Never Occur.” Public Choice 179(1): 97111.
Kahan, Dan M., Braman, Donald, Gastil, John, Slovic, Paul, and Mertz, C. K.. 2007. “Culture and Identity-Protective Cognition: Explaining the White-Male Effect in Risk Perception.” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 4(3): 465505.
Kirshner, Alexander S. 2014. A Theory of Militant Democracy: The Ethics of Combating Political Extremism. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Kirshner, Alexander S. 2016. “Legitimate Opposition, Ostracism, and the Law of Democracy in Ancient Athens.” Journal of Politics 78(4): 10941106.
Kunda, Ziva. 1990. “The Case for Motivated Reasoning.” Psychological Bulletin 108(3): 480498.
Lakoff, George. 2004. Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate—The Essential Guide for Progressives. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green.
Lau, Richard R., Lee, Sigelman, and Rovner, Ivy Brown. 2007. “The Effects of Negative Political Campaigns: A Meta-Analytic Reassessment.” Journal of Politics 69(4): 11761209.
Levitsky, Steven and Ziblatt, Daniel. 2018. How Democracies Die. New York: Crown.
Lipsitz, Keena. 2004. “Democratic Theory and Political Campaigns.” Journal of Political Philosophy 12(2): 163189.
Lodge, Milton and Taber, Charles S.. 2013. The Rationalizing Voter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Maisel, L. Sandy. 2002. “Promises and Persuasion.” In Shades of Gray: Perspectives on Campaign Ethics, eds. Nelson, Candice J., Dulio, David A., and Medvic, Stephen K., 3960. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Maloy, Jason Stuart. 2013. Democratic Statecraft: Political Realism and Popular Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mansbridge, Jane. 2003. “Rethinking Representation.” American Political Science Review 97(4): 515528.
McGraw, Kathleen M., Lodge, Milton, and Jones, Jeffrey M.. 2002. “The Pandering Politicians of Suspicious Minds.” Journal of Politics 64(2): 362–83.
McKean, Benjamin L. 2016. “Toward an Inclusive Populism? On the Role of Race and Difference in Laclau’s Politics.” Political Theory 44(6): 797820.
Medearis, John. 2015. Why Democracy Is Oppositional. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Medvic, Stephen K. and Miller., Dale E. 2002. “Civic Responsibility or Self-Interest?” In Shades of Gray: Perspectives on Campaign Ethics, eds. Nelson, Candice J., Dulio, David A., and Medvic, Stephen K., 1838. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Mickey, Robert, Levitsky, Steven, and Ahmad Way, Lucan. 2017. “Is America Still Safe for Democracy?Foreign Affairs (May/June).
Mouffe, Chantal. 2005. The Return of the Political. London: Verso.
Mouffe, Chantal. 2018. For a Left Populism. London: Verso.
Müller, Jan-Werner. 2016. What Is Populism? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Norman, Wayne. 2011. “Business Ethics as Self-Regulation: Why Principles that Ground Regulations Should Be Used to Ground Beyond-Compliance Norms as Well.” Journal of Business Ethics 102(1): 4357.
Przeworski, Adam. 1999. “Minimalist Conception of Democracy: A Defense.” In Democracy’s Value, eds. Shapiro, Ian and Hacker-Cordon, Casiano, 2355. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Przeworski, Adam. 2010. Democracy and the Limits of Self-Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Przeworski, Adam. 2018. Why Bother With Elections? Cambridge: Polity.
Riker, William H. 1982. Liberalism against Populism: A Confrontation between the Theory of Democracy and the Theory of Social Science. San Francisco: Freeman Press.
Robin, Corey. 2018. “Democracy Is Norm Erosion.” Jacobin, December 20, http://jacobinmag.com/2018/01/democracy-trump-authoritarianism-levitsky-zillblatt-norms.
Rosenblum, Nancy L 2010. On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Schumpeter, Joseph. 1942. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. New York: Harper.
Shapiro, Ian. 1999. “Enough of Deliberation: Politics Is about Interests and Power.” In Deliberative Politics: Essays on Democracy and Disagreement, ed. Macedo, Stephen, 2838. New York: Oxford University Press.
Shapiro, Ian. 2016. Politics against Domination. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Singer, Abraham. 2018. The Form of the Firm: A Normative Political Theory of the Corporation. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sleat, Matt. 2016. “Realism, Liberalism and Non-Ideal Theory: Or, Are There Two Ways to Do Realistic Political Theory?Political Studies 64(1): 2741.
Somin, Ilya. 2013. Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Stout, Jeffrey. 2012. Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Svolik, Milan. 2018When Polarization Trumps Civic Virtue: Partisan Conflict and the Subversion of Democracy by Incumbents.” doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3243470.
Weale, Albert. 2018. The Will of the People: A Modern Myth. Cambridge: Polity.

An Adversarial Ethics for Campaigns and Elections

  • Samuel Bagg and Isak Tranvik

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed