The Epistemic Responsibilities of Voters: Towards an Assertion-Based Account

Michele Giavazzi* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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It is often claimed that democratic voters have epistemic responsibilities. However, it is not often specified why voters have such epistemic responsibilities.
In this paper, I contend that voters have epistemic responsibilities because voting is best understood as an act that bears assertoric force. More precisely, voters perform what I call an act of political advocacy whereby, like an asserter who states or affirms that something is the case, they state or affirm that a certain course of political action is the one that should be followed or enacted.
Consequently, the performance of acts of political advocacy such as voting should be understood as bounded by epistemic norms mirroring those binding the act of assertion and yield epistemic responsibilities mirroring the ones required to satisfy these norms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-131
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Moral Philosophy
Issue number1-2
Early online date25 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

This paper draws on my doctoral dissertation, defended at the University of Warwick. For helpful discussions and comments on various drafts of this paper, the author wishes to thank Alfonso Anaya, Sameer Bajaj, Matthew Clayton, Michel Croce, David Estlund, Maria Paola Ferretti, Corrado Fumagalli, Samuel Honsbeek, Carline Klijnman, Zsolt Kapelner, Thomas Mulligan, Chris Noonan, Valeria Ottonelli, Fabienne Peter, Patrick Tomlin as well as two anonymous referees. The paper has also greatly benefitted from the feedback of audiences at Brown University, Central European University, the University of Pavia and the University of Warwick. Part of this work was generously supported by the H2020 research project redem ‘Reconstructing Democracy in Times of Crisis: A Voter-Centred Perspective’ (grant n° 870996).


  • ethics of voting
  • democratic theory
  • epistemic responsibility
  • norms of assertion
  • epistemic democracy


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