Understanding the Dangers of Mind Changes in Political Leadership (and How to Avoid Them)

Social Theory and Practice 49 (4):653-679 (2023)
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Political leaders may change their mind about a policy, or even a significant moral issue. While genuinely changing one’s mind is not hypocritical, there are reasons to think that leaders who claim such a change are merely hypocritically pandering for political advantage. Indeed, some social science studies allegedly confirm that constituents will judge political leaders who change positions as hypocritical. Yet these studies are missing crucial details that we normally use to distinguish genuine mind changers from hollow hypocrites. These details suggest ways in which political leaders can communicate that their mind change is genuine without necessarily being judged hypocritical.

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