Public Opinion Polling on Moral Issues: As Simple as a Yes or No?
Public opinion polls have become so ingrained in American politics that we give little thought to whether such polls are actually beneficial to our democracy. More compelling, we think, is the increasing willingness of public opinion pollsters to use their technologies to tell us about our collective attitudes on a wide range of ethical issues: from whether we "favor" stem cell research to our willingness to "agree" with some forms of torture.
Tom Fitzgerald has long considered and thoughtfully written about the ethics of public opinion polling. In this podcast, Tom questions the moral value of a polling industry whose foundations and methods depend on "yes or no" answers and "agree or disagree" statements about values and beliefs that are complicated, perhaps incommensurate and even unanswerable. His views call on us to become educated. Not only about whether moral issues should be polled, but about the principles and fundamentals of polling itself.