The ethics of legislative vote trading

John James Thrasher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


It is argued in this article that legislative vote trading by representatives is both ethically permissible and may be ethically required in many cases. This conclusion is an implication of a thin, general account of representation that requires representatives to vote on the basis of the perceived preferences or interests of their constituents. These special duties arise from a thin account of representation and create a weak, defeasible duty for representatives to engage in what they believe will be beneficial vote trades. After establishing this claim, the article considers two objections to this duty. One is based on equating legislative vote trading with corruption, and the other argues that logrolling violates the duty of civility . Neither objection undermines the main claim that there is a weak duty to engage in logrolling. Nevertheless, the implications of this duty may be troubling for other reasons. (c) 2015 Political Studies Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)614–629
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • democracy
  • vote trading
  • logrolling
  • representation
  • public reason

Cite this