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Arts & Letters Daily


Subsumption test

This test involves exploring the interrelationship of principles. When there is strong disagreement about a value decision due to disagreement over the applicability of a principle, it might be desirable to explore related principles. Suppose a person is opposed to lowering the voting age because ‘it is unwise to grant voting privileges to immature people’. This value decision might be placed in proper perspective by trying to establish the relationship between ‘immaturity’, ‘rationality’ and ‘political rationality’. Does ‘to be immature’ mean the same as ‘being irrational’? Are ‘rational people’ immature in some respects? Is ‘rationality’ a preferred criteria for voting above that of ‘maturity’? Are people over eighteen necessarily more rational about politics than people under eighteen years of age? If not, should ‘age’ be an absolute criteria for granting voting privileges on the basis that people over eighteen are more ‘mature’ than those under eighteen? Such a series of questions might lead a discussant to question the basis he gave for his original value decision. In fact, it might even change his value judgment.

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