Public Opinion Polling on Moral Issues: As Simple as a Yes or No?

Audio file

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.

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