Gerrymandering Cartoon

What are the moral dimensions of gerrymandering?

CLA-ALL Events

Dr. Kestigian from Tufts University was invited by the CLA sponsored Purdue Lectures in Ethics, Policy, and Science coordinated by Thomas Doyle from the Philosophy Department to speak about gerrymandering

Thursday, November 7th from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM in Grissom Hall 102.

There is no way around it, gerrymandering is part of the United States political process. In an attempt to suppress the political voice of one group and bolster the political voice of another, gerrymandering allows for a disruption of the democratic voting process in the United States. Both political parties regard gerrymandering as an illegal and unconstitutional process, but these claims are hypocritical in nature ― both parties engage in some form of gerrymandering. However, despite knowing the legal opinions regarding gerrymandering, do we fully know the moral and ethical opinions around gerrymandering? It seems that we know that gerrymandering is illegal, but what about gerrymandering makes it unethical or immoral?

            Oftentimes, gerrymandering is a racial affair. Politicians can create districts that can suppress certain minority groups. This seems to be an immoral action insofar as it violates the autonomy of minority groups. However, politicians can also create districts that amplify the voice of minority groups. Should we consider this sort of redistricting to be a moral act? We expect the United States model of democracy to be built around the ideals of justice, fairness, and equality. How do gerrymandering and its possibilities affect our ethical and moral thoughts on equality, fairness, and public policies that are supposed to preserve our freedoms? Gerrymandering does not seem to be going away, but with the help of statistical analysis and data modeling, we are better able to understand the ethical and moral implications of the gerrymandering process.

            Dr. Aidan Kestigian is the program manager for the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group at Tufts University. This group uses geometry and computing to better understand gerrymandering and its threat to the democratic process within the United States. Dr. Kestigian’s work focuses specifically on the ethical and moral ramifications of gerrymandering. Her work takes an interdisciplinary approach in understanding the complex ethical and moral problem of redistricting on racial and partisan lines. Dr. Kestigian will give a talk entitled: “Philosophy of Redistricting” which will address and map out the moral and ethical implications of gerrymandering.

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