Meritocracy and Democracy: Mixed Regimes and the Limits of Political Legitimacy (CANCELED)

Sat, Apr 18, 2020, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Location: 
Wallace Hall, Room 300
Audience: 
Other
Sponsor(s): 
Politics

Organizers:           

Joseph Chan, Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong
Dongxian Jiang, Princeton University, Politics Ph.D. Candidate
Stephen Macedo, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University

Speakers and Panelists:

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy and Law, New York University
Tongdong Bai, Dongfang Chair Professor of Philosophy, Fudan University
Joseph Chan, Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong
Gregory Conti, Assistant Professor, Politics, Princeton University
Loubna El Amine, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University
Baogang He, Alfred Deakin Professor and Personal Chair in International Relations, Deakin University
Dongxian Jian, Ph.D. Candidate, Princeton University
Stephen Macedo, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University
Jane Mansbridge, Charles F. Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, Harvard Kennedy School
Philip Pettit, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University
Rahul Sagar, Global Network Associate Professor of Political Science, NYU Abu Dhabi
Justin Tiwald, Professor, Department of Philosophy, San Francisco State University
Rory Truex, Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Melissa Williams, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto

Abstract:  The idea of a “mixed regime” or “mixed constitution” was important in the history of Western political thought but has receded to the background since democracy became the dominant form of political rule in the West and an influential ideology throughout the world.  In recent years there has, however, been a renewed attention to mixed regimes as a possible antidote to the current democratic crises in the West or an alternative model for China or other non-Western countries. Of particular interest is the possibility of combining democratic and meritocratic institutions in ways that depart from familiar liberal democratic models in order to better secure quality governance and resist populism in politics.

This workshop aims to explore several basic questions about mixing meritocracy with democracy to form a mixed regime.  We hope to focus on mixed regime proposals that go beyond the familiar mechanisms employed by constitutional democracies, which routinely delegate power to politically independent courts, central banks, a myriad of regulatory and administrative agencies, and even international institutions, often to enlist the virtues of expertise and independence from partisan politics.  In the West, such proposals include restrictions on the franchise, John Stuart Mill’s “plural voting,” and (possibly) the prominent role that the two major US political parties gave to peer review by professional politicians in selecting presidential candidates prior to the McGovern Commission reforms of the early 1970’s.  In East Asia, there are a variety of academic proposals, and local experiments, involving peer review, examination results, and other ways of selecting for merit, which either substitute for, or are combined with, elections. 

Also relevant to our workshop could be variations on Rawls’s idea of decent but not fully liberal and democratic regimes, in which religious authorities, royal families, or other elites play an important and guiding role alongside elected assemblies (Singapore and the UAE, for example), or even regimes in which the military plays a stabilizing role. 

This workshop aims to explore some basic questions about mixing meritocracy with democracy to form a mixed regime. Given that liberal democratic constitutions already delegate considerable power to unelected officials when is popular accountability sufficiently attenuated for a regime to qualify as genuinely mixed?  Is it desirable and justifiable to use meritocratically selected institutions to counterbalance democratic ones?  How should we evaluate the legitimacy of proposals and experiments that depart from democracy involve combining elements of meritocracy and democracy?  Does the attraction of such regimes depend upon unfavorable circumstances?  How stable can such mixed regimes be?


Audience:  Open to faculty, students, and fellows