What Should the Voter Know? Epistemic Trust in Democracy

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Alvin Goldman develops the concept of “core voter knowledge” to capture the kind of knowledge that voters need to have in order that democracy function successfully. As democracy is supposed to promote the people's goals, core voter knowledge must, according to Goldman, first and foremost answer the question which electoral candidate would successfully perform in achieving that voter's ends. In our paper we challenge this concept of core voter knowledge from different angles. We analyse the dimensions of political trustworthiness and their relevance for the voter; we contrast two alternative orientations that the voter might take—an “outcome-orientation” and a “process-orientation”; and we discuss how an expressive account of voting behaviour would shift the focus in regard to the content of voter knowledge. Finally, we discuss some varieties of epistemic trust and their relevance for the availability, acquisition and dissemination of voter knowledge in a democracy.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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