Philosophy Research Seminar: Intentional Omission as Political Action
Not voting, refusing to take part in decision making and boycotting are regularly considered as political behavior of a kind. Our political agency seems to consist not only of our actions but what we intentionally do not do in society as well. But what kind of view of political action does including manifestations of our 'negative' agency entail? Are intentional omissions necessarily political actions if they are politically intended? If they are seen as political actions, what kind of repercussions does it have? Can philosophy of intentional omissions inform our view of political agency in the first place?
In this paper, I evaluate whether intentional omissions should be seen as political actions. Political action can be seen as a manifestation of agency that is a) necessarily expressive, b) has political intention, or c) happens in the shared social reality of agents. I argue that some intentional omission are political actions but not all politically intended intentional omissions should be seen as such. This is because intentional omissions do not necessarily have a message that could be deciphered by someone else, and they do not necessarily happen in a shared social reality of agents but might only be witnessed by the omitting agent herself. Mere political intention is not thus enough to make a manifestation of agency political action.