Originally Posted by ProxyAmenRa
Value is subjective. In turn, there are no objectively good reasons to do something. Unless there is at least one true axiom being used by the individual to derive what they should value. Then you could argue whether or not what they have valued is rational.
Yes, value is subjective. And if voting is a matter of expression, then it's true that voting is not irrational (but instead nonrational). That is, voting would be intrinsically valued (or perceived as beneficial) as long as it allows one to express, and this would be the case so long as one turns in a ballot.
But if instead voting is construed as instrumental
(which is the common view), then there is goal, and this is usually to reach some political outcome, such as 'making the country better off'. In this situation, someone may subjectively value the goal, but would voting be a rational means of attaining this goal?
This is where your initial response is ambiguous: by "beneficial", did you mean to suggest that voting can be perceived as benefiting one in terms of, say, allowing one to politically express, or did you mean to suggest that voting can be perceived as beneficial in the context of some contribution to a political outcome?
If the former, the value of voting is subjective and non-rational. But if the latter, the subjective value of a political outcome (reached by means of voting) may not necessarily be rational, despite one's value system. So how do you construe voting and the perception of benefits versus costs? Is it inherently or instrumentally beneficial to a voter? The answer to this determines if voting is possibly rational, irrational, or non-rational.
Plus, some also question the ethics of voting. So regardless of the subjective value of political outcomes, some may argue that political outcomes have objective value, so that a vote can be ethical or unethical depending on the outcomes one's vote (presumably) supports.
Yes, the payoff is not subjective but it is impossible to know the payoff before it occurs. The likelihood of different resultant events can be estimated. I engage in this quite frequently with my risk analyses (mathematical wizardry).
Well, this assumes there is a direct voting payoff, to begin with. That is, whether or not a vote is causally connected to a payoff in a way that matters. Otherwise, voting only incidentally results in favorable outcomes (and so is perceived as a payoff). But surely one can attempt to estimate
outcomes prior to voting. So, again, the idea that voting for outcomes is rational is not very clear.
Take this recently election. Hillary had a 80% chance to win and Trump had a 20% chance to win; an estimated probability mass function was describing the payoff. One event occurred, Trump winning, thus anyone who voted with the expectation of Hillary winning, in hindsight, could have put their effort to better uses. Of course, the expected value of the probability mass function was Hillary winning. If the Trump voters based their decision on the expected value of the mass function and not voted, Trump would not have won. People's decision making processes were far more complex than just taking the expected value of a probability mass function.
Now we ask the question: Were the Hillary voters acting irrationally?
I have no grounds to believe they were acting irrationally. I don't know what axioms they were appealing to in their value tabulations. Let alone, whether or not these axioms are "rational" to begin with. For some reason they thought voting for her was beneficial. They acted according to their subjective value tabulations and they voted. I give them the benefit of the doubt.
If they voted to express, then surely they were not voting irrationally. But if they voted for outcomes, there's many problems. Again, there's the issue of establishing the very idea that voting is casually connected with outcomes in a way that rationally justifies individual votes. This doesn't seem clear. Also, the extent to which other voter's ignorance impacts the worth of your own vote (assuming you spend much time informing yourself) also leaves reason to question the rationality of voting as an instrumental means. Expectations as to who will win are then irrelevant.
But even then, even if voting based on probabilistic expectations did often lead to the right election outcomes, it is still questionable whether the candidate one helped to elect would actually improve the state of things, overall. They might simply find that the candidate is horribly unprepared for the job, despite appearances. In this way, then, voting even with probabilistic calculations taken into account, one's vote may end up actually contributing, again assuming causal connections, to a worse state of things for a country, county, state, etc. And if voting is to do a duty in promoting the greater good, then voting isn't always rational.