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The ideal meritocracy.

 
 
amist
 
Reply Fri 12 Feb, 2010 02:11 am
This is for a continuation of a tangent in this thread. If you want the context, please read the thread.

Insty:
Originally Posted by amist http://www.philosophyforum.com/images/PHBlue/buttons/viewpost.gif
It's not a big problem. Explain to me how, if it is. The only evidence that could possibly be detrimental to my view is if there were many cases of meritocracies essentially of the type I have proposed had been implemented, and collapsed due to some fundamental flaw that was inherent in the system.
I see that you have ignored my request for a yes or a no as to whether a meritocratic state (as you understand "meritocracy") has ever existed. I'll take that as a no.

This is a very serious problem for your position, and I frankly think it's disingenuous to pretend otherwise. Evidence of multiple botched meritocracies is only one form of evidence that would undermine your position. The fact that you're unable to identify even one concrete example of a meritocratic form of government is even more damaging to your view, because it suggests that the project can never even get off of the ground in the first place.

The idea of erecting a meritocratic form of government isn't new. It's been around for millennia. One is entitled to wonder why, during all this time, a bonafide meritocracy hasn't sprouted up once in a while. Just about every other type of polity or regime has existed at one point or another. Why no meritocracy? I think the answer is obvious. If you have an alternative explanation, it would be interesting to hear it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amist http://www.philosophyforum.com/images/PHBlue/buttons/viewpost.gif
The administrators of the meritocracy must have a clear and profound understanding of what the natural and inherent rights of the human individual are, and why they ought not be infringed upon. The administrators of the meritocracy must also understand what the role of a 'government' is in managing human affairs and interaction between people and peoples is. Once they understand these things, they will be able to administrate human affairs rightly and correctly.

With all due respect, this answer is vacuous. What people are asking you to do is explain how we can tell who these administrator folks are. Otherwise, there's no way to distinguish between a meritocracy and a state run by demagogues. And this is to say nothing of the assumption that there is such a thing as "natural and inherent rights" or that there is a single correct way of ordering human affairs.

I will add one final problem with your view (or with your exposition of your view): even assuming that such a state could be established, it just doesn't sound like a very interesting or fulfilling place to live. It promises to be even more bureaucratic than contemporary democracies, and on top of that, it creates a caste system.



amist:
Quote:
The fact that you're unable to identify even one concrete example of a meritocratic form of government is even more damaging to your view, because it suggests that the project can never even get off of the ground in the first place.
Okay, I am going to explain this as in detail, and clearly, as I possibly can...patience be damned. So please pay very, very close attention to what I am about to say, because I'm only going to explain it once, and in the future I will simply refer you back to this post if you still don't understand what I am saying. Let's look closely at what your premises are. Upon further examination, you have stated only one premise which I can extract from this quote.

1. There are no examples of a meritocracy arising in history

I got this premise, from the statement "The fact that you're unable to identify even one concrete example of a meritocratic form of government is even more damaging to your view". Now, I have not been able to identify a single concrete example of a meritocratic form of government. This is damaging to my argument. The part stating the damaging nature of this reality is simply there to indicate that an explanation of why it is damaging to my argument is coming. It also suggests, that the damage to my position is being done by the fact that I cannot identify an example of a meritocratic form of government. This however, only gives us that I am ignorant of any meritocratic governments which may have existed. Which wouldn't be damaging to my position in general were say, someone who had knowledge of these governments arguing for it. So I must deduce that your premise is that 'There are no examples of a meritocracy arising in history', since only my ignorance of them is not damaging to my position in general and it is suggested by your conclusion, that you are arguing that it is damaging to my position in this sense as opposed to as I am arguing it. That is to say, how I happen to be articulating it at this time, whether well or poorly.

Your conclusion, is contained in this statement.
"...because [the premise] suggests that the project can never even get off of the ground in the first place"
Your stated conclusion is that it follows from your premise that if there has never been a meritocracy in the history of human civilization, then the project could never have possibly gotten off the ground in the first place. Some operative words in your above statement being 'can never'.

Well, I can think of an obvious counter example to this conclusion, it is simply the case that no attempt at a meritocracy was ever made in earnest. Or also, that there exist certain obstacles in the path to establishing a meritocracy, that have yet to be surmounted (an obvious obstacle being the self interest of those who would clearly be removed from seats of power if they were allotted on a basis of merit). For your assertion that the establishment of a true meritocracy is impossible to be true, this conclusion calls for a demonstration of a contradiction inherent in the system itself. For certainly it doesn't defy any laws of nature at least I am aware of to have a meritocracy. Surely you must be suggesting at a fatal flaw inherent in the system, in fact you do suggest it again here;

"One is entitled to wonder why, during all this time, a bonafide meritocracy hasn't sprouted up once in a while. Just about every other type of polity or regime has existed at one point or another. Why no meritocracy? I think the answer is obvious."

I can only imagine that you are suggesting that the reason that a meritocracy has never cropped up is that there is some kind of self defeating principle or conflicting principles at work within a meritocracy necessarily. If this is actually your position, I would appreciate it if you laid it bare what these self defeating principles were. If it is not, I would either like a retraction of your entire last post, or an explanation of how that post does not imply the things I have deduced from it.

You went on to demand for me an explanation as to why no meritocracy has ever arisen. Before I do this, I would like to point out that there was a time before democracy existed, before representative government existed, NAY BEFORE GOVERNMENT ITSELF EXISTED! Now, would your same argument that 'no government has ever existed, how is it possible for one to come into existence?' have been valid in the paleolithic era? I think not. REGARDLESS, for the sake of argument accepting this prima facie erroneous argument against meritocracy as true...are there any possible explanations for why a meritocracy has not arisen thus far in history which do not involve some kind of intrinsic flaw in a system of meritocracy itself? Well, lo and behold, I've already given one. Earlier, I said that it may perhaps be the case that there are certain external obstacles which a coming meritocracy has not yet surmounted in its own establishment.

Quote:
(an obvious obstacle being the self interest of those who would clearly be removed from seats of power if they were allotted on a basis of merit)
This is clearly a realistic, extrinsic force which could conceivably be acting against the establishment of a meritocracy, is it not? Should you be unconvinced by this one counter example, let me present you with yet another.

That the people of the world throughout the history of the world have thus far been complacent and satisfied with a government which was merely tolerable and have not wished for a change from that which is merely tolerable to that which is not only better, but right!

I shall give you another. The campaign needed to be waged in order to gain public support for such a meritocracy (for even I admit it would not likely be possible to implement with only the few who would be fit to run it as supporting it) would surely take years and years, if not a generation or two, to wage. Especially against a populous untrained in the art of reasoned argumentation, which is indeedhow one must correctly arrive at the conclusion that a meritocracy is the best form of government. Surely three valid counter examples to your postulate that 'The answer is obvious why there is no meritocracy, it's because it's impossible'.

Quote:
What people are asking you to do is explain how we can tell who these administrator folks are.
It will require a certain class of people to be able to understand who this upper class of philosopher (maybe that adjective will help out) administrators will be. I certainly hope that all of you are at least capable of reaching being that class, if not of that class. What is the function of the state? It is surely to administer interactions between people and to ensure that they are civil. What is the function of the statesman? To aid in steering the state towards these ends. And the best statesman is the man who best understands the function of the state and how to use the limited powers granted to the state to direct it towards these ends. If you disagree with this definition of what the best statesman is, I would like to hear what the better definition is.

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And this is to say nothing of the assumption that there is such a thing as "natural and inherent rights" or that there is a single correct way of ordering human affairs.
It is not an assumption, and deed in establishing one the other follows. Now, first off, if you don't think that humans have natural and inherent rights, I am not entirely certain I feel safe allowing you around children. And it's not an assumption, it follows purely from reason. If you are a human, you are obligated to respect other humans as other rational autonomous beings. You are all thrown into the world, you are at their mercy as much as they are at your mercy. You are free in the world, and surely any unreasonable limiting of this freedom is a suppressing of your very nature. Is unreasonable limiting of natural freedom justifiable? Surely not, this is the definition of unreasonable. Then you ought not do it. If you wish do do what is not justifiable, then you are acting entirely at random, and why in the hell would you want to do that? So then, you ought not act in any way which constrains the freedom of another individual without reason. Well then, what would be a valid constriction of the freedom of an individual? Well, we have already said that we may not unreasonably restrict the freedom of an individual, so then, does this not make it reasonable to prevent individuals from unreasonably restricting the freedom of others? To this question I find my self forced to answer 'yes, yes it most certainly does'. And voila! Rights. So then, it follows from this, that a correct ordering of human affairs is one which constrains an individuals freedom to constrain the freedom of other individuals in any way!

Quote:
...It promises to be even more bureaucratic than contemporary democracies...
I concede, I have not outlined it with great clarity, because I wished for this thread to be a critique of one particular system, not an argument for another one. I also concede that much of the language I've used, though accurate in describing my system, is implicate of what you just described. But now that I've come this far I can tell you that this system is not in fact as you described. Recall, that the role of this administration is to correctly order human affairs, that is, interactions between humans. Which as I have said above, is to constrain the freedoms of individuals only so far as they are constrained from constraining the freedoms of other individuals! You are absolutely boundless and free so far as you are not encroaching on the freedom of another! So long as you are not slighting another in any way you are free to do whatever you like! It is in actuality, nothing like an uninteresting or fulfilling place to live. It would be a place that any individual can be free to make of it whatever he/she likes within his or her own power! Only insofar as he/she is not interfering with an-others ability to do so as well!

Now on to your last and most absurd claim.

Quote:
it creates a caste system.
Absolute tripe. When have I mentioned hereditary inheritance of administrative positions or social status even once! In fact! A caste system is in CLEAR AND DIRECT CONFLICT WITH A MERITOCRACY! Those in the government will simply be those who are the most qualified, regardless of origins. The administrators and the rest who would do the labor on which society depends would be separated out during the education and there would be permeability between the two tracks as one demonstrates his/her own ability. Those children with parents in the educational track would not receive any kind of advantage by having schooling be conducted at year-round boarding schools. The atomic household is done away with and the families of the children will be their classmates and their mentors. Everyone has an equal shot.

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