Philosophy Ripped From The Headlines!, Issue #12, 2 (August 2018): Epistocracy, Not Democracy?

By Hugh Reginald

“Epistocracy: A Political Theorist’s Case For Letting Only the Informed Vote”

By Sean Illing

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, cast their votes on Election Day at PS 59 on November 8, 2016, in New York City. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some Follow-Up Thoughts For Further Reflection and Discussion:

Is the following argument sound? If so, why? If not, why not?

  1. Let us suppose that it is true that, as Jason Brennan points out, contemporary majoritarian democracy in the USA also has many other problems, including identity-driven cultural conflict and tribalism, demagoguery, ideological mind-control via social and public media, voter ignorance, significant levels of non-participation, and so-on.
  2. But introducing an epistocracy in order to improve contemporary majoritarian democracy in the USA in some or all of those respects would not only violate libertarian democracy, because it is neither open nor unfettered, it would also violate ethical-emancipatory democracy, because it is elitist and fails to universally respect the human dignity of those who either cannot pass the political knowledge test or for any other reason, object to the content of the test, or refuse to take the test.
  3. Therefore, although an epistocracy might in fact improve some of the many problems of contemporary majoritarian democracy in the USA, it not only presupposes the majoritarian concept of democracy, which is inherently questionable due to the problems of the tyranny of the majority and tyranny of the minority, as well as presupposing the neoliberal valorization of global corporate capitalism and technocracy, but it also is rationally unjustified and immoral because it violates the libertarian and ethical-emancipatory concepts of democracy.
  4. As against epistocracy, a better solution to the problems of contemporary majoritarian democracy in the USA would be to reject majority rule and neoliberalism themselves, while also sustaining the libertarian and ethical-emancipatory concepts of democracy, as for example in social anarchism or democratic socialism.

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store