Authority is rational

AMcGuinn (and here) and Aretae had some more back and forth on authority and reason.

My view is that authority natural, rational, logical and necessary. Life without authority is impossible, undesirable, nasty, brutish and short.

The only way to argue that authority and rationality are opposed to each other is to start with the false premise that everyone is equal. Not "equal before the law" equal, but equal in an "interchangeable with each other" way.

If a person is incapable of supporting himself, it’s illogical – and just plain mean – to demand that he be allowed to live without authority.

Also, this video from Kalim Kassam may be of interest.


6 Responses to Authority is rational

  1. todd says:

    Do you think people should use their own judgment to evaluate the outcomes of actions taken at the direction of an authority?

  2. Handle says:

    Those that argue against “authority” I think have a poverty of experience of those situations in which nothing can progress because no one is either in charge or personally responsible and accountable. There’s a reason “unity of command” is a fundamental military principle.

    If you’ve never actually been in that situation and cried real tears for clarity as to who was in charge over whom, please be humble about your own feelings regarding the hypothetical usefulness of “authority”.

    This occurs in bureaucracy (corporate and governmental alike) all the time – usually as a result of overlapping jurisdiction of multiple independent entities over a particular subject matter (or a single “nexus” of a collection of facts and circumstances that gives rise to the involvement of various departments).

    In Foseti’s domain, one of the major criticisms of our Octopus-like financial regulatory apparatus in the immediate aftermath of “the crisis” was that it lacked the “coherence” associated with real central authority. The same goes for Intelligence-Sharing and Scarce-Collection-Resource-Allocation prior to 9/11, and also for the the nonsensical NATO-US command-structure hybrid in Afghanistan prior to harmonization last year.

    Authority is simply indispensable to the human beings working together, harmoniously and effectively, towards a common collective purpose which is not always exactly equivalent to their own.

    The question is not whether authority, it is the proper scope of power and optimal manner of selecting leadership.

  3. Gian says:

    Do you accept that Husbands have Authority over Wives?

    • Foseti says:

      The idea of the modern marriage is that no one has authority – both are equal. I think that is an impossibility and a recipe for disaster.

      I’m willing to potentially agree that in the old times, men were given too much unchecked authority over their wives and that therefore some reform of the institution was reasonable. However, “equality” goes too far in the other direction.

      • Handle says:

        I prefer to think of it in terms of divided property or separated jurisdiction or proper roles or “lanes of authority” as in “stay in your lane”.

        Household decisions are divided up by subject matter and remain in the sole authority of one spouse, with the other agreeing to defer and abide in that domain, and submit even when there might be controversy. Finances with one party, education of the children with the other, and so on.

        The point of “authority” is not necessarily simply absolute domination of one person’s will against another’s in all matters (as with slavery, or custodianship of dependents), it is about being mutually comfortable in having an understood system of priority in resolving issues where there may be substantial disagreement.

        As i said above, it helps when, as to every major question, it is clear who is in charge and there is no overlapping jurisdiction or responsibility.

        It’s always a recipe for disaster when every matter is up for grabs and a conclusion must be teased out through a “deliberation process” which is guaranteed to sow discord and ill-will at people stubbornly entrench themselves into irreconcilable positions.

        Most of the happy married couples I know have some kind of informal system like this where both parties avoid the potential conflict and because they value the other spouse’s happiness as much as their own, are personally flexible with regards to the other’s wishes in their proper area of responsibility even when it’s not the choice they would have made themselves.

        In government this “staying altogether out of each other’s proper business” is most like the traditional and original notion of “Separation of Powers” vs the complete overlapping of authority we see today – where Congress, the Executive, and the Courts can all issue orders over the exact same means, and so often have to fight about who gets to control the ends.

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