Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Citizen's Examination of Conscience

  1. From where did/do I derive my political ideas: Reason, tradition, emotion, et cetera?
  2. Have I ever returned to study, and possibly challenge, the ideas I first learned?
  3. Do I speak on, and address others about, only matters which I have thoroughly researched and considered, and on which I have opinions which I can logically and clearly articulate?
  4. Of my own ideas, do I keep current on matters with which they intersect?
  5. Do I stay informed on a variety of issues, or only certain ones?
  6. Do I speak as appropriate to prove my case to others, or to gratify myself?
  7. How often do I read scholarly books and articles?
  8. How often do I read any books and articles which articulate opposing viewpoints, or do I only read ones with which I already agree?
  9. Do I seek out the best opposing viewpoints to understand them and potentially challenge my own ideas, or am I content to read the most easily refuted opposing ideas?
  10. Do I check the facts of articles?
  11. Do I especially check the facts of articles with which I agree?
  12. Do I stay informed about legislation and court cases?
  13. Do I read legislation and court cases myself, or do I rely on others' opinions and summaries?
  14. In evaluating political decisions, do I consider:
    1. Both universal and particular law?
    2. Whether the matter is of a political nature in the first place?
    3. Whether the law ought to be passed or the case heard at that particular level of government?
    4. The principles on which the decision rests?
    5. The precedent which informs it and the precedent which it sets?
    6. Potential side effects, positive and negative, and their probabilities?
    7. Whether there is enough information to decide the matter at all?
    8. Whether the desired outcome might be better achieved by another means?
  15. In evaluating candidates for political office do I:
    1. Have an objective set of criteria against which I equally compare all candidates?
    2. Stay equally informed about all candidates?
    3. Consider as separate, but related and relevant the character, talk, and action of the candidate?
    4. Separate rhetoric from logical arguments?
    5. Hold officials accountable after delegating my authority to them?
  16. When disagreeing, do I do so from principle or as a reactionary or emotionally? 
  17. When disagreeing, do I use facts which I can cite, or have I allowed my facts and sentiments to congeal into a sense which is no longer rooted in particulars?
  18. Do I promote the good by ways other than voting?
  19. Do I treat speculation with appropriate skepticism?
  20. Do I expect of other citizens what I do not do myself?
  21. Do I admit when I am wrong?

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