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Moral disagreement is sometimes thought to pose problems for moral realism because it shows that we cannot achieve knowledge of the moral facts the realists posit. In particular, it is ‘fundamental’ moral disagreement—that is, disagreement that is not due to distorting factors such as ignorance of relevant nonmoral facts, bad reasoning skills, or the like—that is supposed to generate skeptical implications. In this paper, we show that this version of the disagreement challenge is flawed as it stands. The reason is that the epistemic assumptions it requires are incompatible with the possibility of fundamental disagreement. However, we also present an alternative reconstruction of the challenge that avoids the problem. The challenge we present crucially invokes the principle that knowledge requires ‘adherence’. While that requirement is usually not discussed in this context, we argue that it provides a promising explanation of why disagreement sometimes leads to skepticism.
In this analysis of how electoral rules and outcomes shape the internal organization of political parties, we make an analogy to primary elections to argue that parties use preference-vote tallies to identify popular politicians and promote them to positions of power. We document this behavior among parties in Sweden's semi-open-list system and in Brazil's open-list system. To identify a causal impact of preference votes, we exploit a regression discontinuity design around the threshold of winning the most preference votes on a party list. In our main case, Sweden, these narrow “primary winners” are at least 50% more likely to become local party leaders than their runners-up. Across individual politicians, the primary effect is present only for politicians who hold the first few positions on the list and when the preference-vote winner and runner-up have similar competence levels. Across party groups, the primary effect is the strongest in unthreatened governing parties.
Many articles use regression discontinuity designs (RDDs) that exploit the
discontinuity in “close” election outcomes to identify various political and
economic outcomes of interest. One of the most important types of diagnostic
tests in an RDD is checking for balance in observable variables within the
window on either side of the threshold. Finding an imbalance raises concerns
that an unobservable variable may exist that affects whether a case ends up
above or below the threshold and also directly affects the dependent
variable of interest. This article shows that imbalance in RDDs exploiting
close elections are likely to arise even in the absence of any type of
strategic sorting. Imbalance may arise simply due to variation in the
underlying distribution of partisanship in the electorate across
constituencies. Using both simulated and actual election data, the study
demonstrates that the imbalances driven by partisanship can be large in
practice. It then shows that although this causes a bias for the most naive
RDDs, the problem can be corrected with commonly used RDDs such as the
inclusion of a local linear control function.
To understand how electoral reform affects political outcomes, one needs to assess its total effect, incorporating how the reform affects the outcomes given the political status quo (the mechanical effects) and the additional reactions of political agents (the psychological effects). This article proposes a framework to ascertain the relative magnitude of mechanical and various psychological effects. The empirical approach is based on pairwise comparisons of actual and counterfactual seat allocation outcomes. It uses the design to analyze a nationwide municipal electoral reform in Norway, which changed the seat allocation method from D’Hondt to Modified Sainte-Laguë. The study documents clear psychological effects.
Does control of patronage jobs significantly increase a political party's chances of winning elections in U.S. states? We employ a differences-in-differences design, exploiting the considerable variation in the dates that different states adopted civil service reforms. Our evidence suggests that political parties in U.S. states were able to use state-level patronage to increase the probability of maintaining control of state legislatures and statewide elective offices. We also find that an “entrenched” party, in power for a longer time, can use patronage more effectively. We consider several alternative hypotheses that might plausibly account for the patterns in the data, but find no evidence to support them.
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