Posted on August 29, by Scott Alexander [Content note:
Posted on July 24, by Scott Alexander I. Prospect Magazine writes about the problem with meritocracy. First Things thinks meritocracy is killing America. Feminist Philosophers comes out against meritocracy.
Vox calls for an attack on the false god of meritocracy. Some of these people are just being pointlessly edgy.
The other articles actually mean it. Then they go to Harvard and dazzle their professors with their sparkling wit and dapper suits. Does that mean we should be against meritocracy? Freddie de Boer, in his review of yet another anti-meritocracy book, puts it best: I reject meritocracy because I reject the idea of human deserts.
I believe an equal best should be done for all people at all times. More practically, I believe that anything resembling an accurate assessment of what someone deserves is impossible, inevitably drowned in a sea of confounding variables, entrenched advantage, genetic and physiological tendencies, parental influence, peer effects, random chance, and the conditions under which a person labors.
To reflect on the immateriality of human deserts is not a denial of choice; it is a denial of self-determination. The intuition behind meritocracy is this: Generalize a little, and you have the argument for being a meritocrat everywhere else.
The Federal Reserve making good versus bad decisions can be the difference between an economic boom or a recession, and ten million workers getting raises or getting laid off. This has nothing to do with fairness, deserts, or anything else. If some rich parents pay for their unborn kid to have experimental gene therapy that makes him a superhumanly-brilliant economist, and it works, and through no credit of his own he becomes a superhumanly-brilliant economist — then I want that kid in charge of the Federal Reserve.
The real solution to this problem is the one none of the anti-meritocracy articles dare suggest: Some of these people are too poor to afford to go to college. These people have loads of merit. I got into medical school because I got good grades in college; those good grades were in my major, philosophy.
Someone else who was a slightly worse philosopher would never have made it to medical school; maybe they would have been a better doctor. Ulysses Grant graduated in the bottom half of his West Point class, but turned out to be the only guy capable of matching General Lee and winning the Civil War after a bunch of superficially better-credentialed generals failed.
Are we confident it will even try? And if it was only that kind of educational success that gave spots on some kind of national chess team, Kasparov and a bunch of other grandmasters would never have a chance.
Real meritocracy is what you get when you ignore the degrees and check who can actually win a chess game. One of the few places I see this going well is in programming.
Triplebyte conflict of interest notice: Then it matches them with tech companies that want the kind of programming the applicant is good at. What matters is whether you can code or not.Download-Theses Mercredi 10 juin UN News produces daily news content in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Kiswahili, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and weekly programmes in Hindi, Urdu and Bangla.
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