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8  WOMAN AND DEMOCRACY.
 
8  WOMAN AND DEMOCRACY.
 
it is not necessary that he should; for most questions, so far as the voter is concerned, demand only a small amount of fairness and honesty upon his part to do all that he can do. He must insist upon public honesty and good character and as much intelligence as possible in public men, and for the rest, except in the most obvious matters, he has to leave the decisions to the legislators themselves. And even among the legislators very few are entitled to any opinion on most of the questions they decide. The work has to be distributed among committees, which are supposed to contain some experts on the matter in question, and there is where the decisions are really made. The experts instruct the committee. The committee reports accordingly, and in the very many cases the legislators accept and adopt the committee's report, with only the most general knowledge on their own part of the subject at issue. It would seem, then, that the average woman might take her place as a voter without putting upon herself any great strain. Certainly she would be fully equal to the strain endured by the average masculine voter, and it would not be difficult to equal him in character and public spirit.
 
it is not necessary that he should; for most questions, so far as the voter is concerned, demand only a small amount of fairness and honesty upon his part to do all that he can do. He must insist upon public honesty and good character and as much intelligence as possible in public men, and for the rest, except in the most obvious matters, he has to leave the decisions to the legislators themselves. And even among the legislators very few are entitled to any opinion on most of the questions they decide. The work has to be distributed among committees, which are supposed to contain some experts on the matter in question, and there is where the decisions are really made. The experts instruct the committee. The committee reports accordingly, and in the very many cases the legislators accept and adopt the committee's report, with only the most general knowledge on their own part of the subject at issue. It would seem, then, that the average woman might take her place as a voter without putting upon herself any great strain. Certainly she would be fully equal to the strain endured by the average masculine voter, and it would not be difficult to equal him in character and public spirit.
But prejudice is prolific and can conjure up reasons where none exist, and anything whatever that is called an argument passes for one. Thus the noble science of Biology is subpoenaed and appears in the person of a Distinguished Professor to say that "the process of evolution is toward the differentiation of function." After this oracular utterance the Professor concludes, one knows not how, that a woman must not be allowed to express in a vote an opinion respecting the management of schools, or in the city Government, or local taxation, and so forth. The phrase is very impressive and might well impose upon the passive and intellectually defenceless mind. One feels a sense of awe before anything so imposing as the "differentiation of function," but it is exceedingly difficult to connect the premise with the particular conclusion.
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But prejudice is prolific and can conjure up reasons where none exist, and anything whatever that is called an argument passes for one. Thus the noble science of Biology is subpoenaed and appears in the person of a Distinguished Professor to say that "the process of evolution is toward the differentiation of function." After this oracular utterance the Professor concludes, one knows not how, that a woman must not be allowed to express in a vote an opinion respecting the management of schools, or in the city Government, or local taxation, and so forth. The phrase is very impressive and might well impose upon the passive and intellectually defenceless mind. One feels a sense of awe before anything so imposing as the "differentiation of function," but it is exceedingly difficult to connect the premise with the particular conclusion. Indeed, one with the same logic might get anything out of the phrase--might claim, for instance, that the working-classes should not vote, because evolution proceeds though the differentiation of function, and this differentiation would lead to the handing over of Government to a privileged few. With what impressiveness a defender of caste would appeal to the "differentiation of function"! These oracles only illustrate over again Burke's weakest arguments and strongest prejudices.

Revision as of 14:04, 17 February 2020

8 WOMAN AND DEMOCRACY. it is not necessary that he should; for most questions, so far as the voter is concerned, demand only a small amount of fairness and honesty upon his part to do all that he can do. He must insist upon public honesty and good character and as much intelligence as possible in public men, and for the rest, except in the most obvious matters, he has to leave the decisions to the legislators themselves. And even among the legislators very few are entitled to any opinion on most of the questions they decide. The work has to be distributed among committees, which are supposed to contain some experts on the matter in question, and there is where the decisions are really made. The experts instruct the committee. The committee reports accordingly, and in the very many cases the legislators accept and adopt the committee's report, with only the most general knowledge on their own part of the subject at issue. It would seem, then, that the average woman might take her place as a voter without putting upon herself any great strain. Certainly she would be fully equal to the strain endured by the average masculine voter, and it would not be difficult to equal him in character and public spirit. But prejudice is prolific and can conjure up reasons where none exist, and anything whatever that is called an argument passes for one. Thus the noble science of Biology is subpoenaed and appears in the person of a Distinguished Professor to say that "the process of evolution is toward the differentiation of function." After this oracular utterance the Professor concludes, one knows not how, that a woman must not be allowed to express in a vote an opinion respecting the management of schools, or in the city Government, or local taxation, and so forth. The phrase is very impressive and might well impose upon the passive and intellectually defenceless mind. One feels a sense of awe before anything so imposing as the "differentiation of function," but it is exceedingly difficult to connect the premise with the particular conclusion. Indeed, one with the same logic might get anything out of the phrase--might claim, for instance, that the working-classes should not vote, because evolution proceeds though the differentiation of function, and this differentiation would lead to the handing over of Government to a privileged few. With what impressiveness a defender of caste would appeal to the "differentiation of function"! These oracles only illustrate over again Burke's weakest arguments and strongest prejudices.