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The Concept of “Merit”

May 5, 2009

I want to punch it in the face. Hard.

Well, I’m on a roll with these “I’m in a pissy mood” posts.


UPDATE: Now that I’m in a slightly better mood, let me explain.

I hate the way that some people use the concept of “merit” as a weapon against things like affirmative action—their idea is usually that affirmative action unfairly denies positions to people who, because of their merit, really deserve the position.

Note: my opposition to this use of “merit” doesn’t mean that I’m 100% for affirmative action. However, merit in this sort of argument is, in my opinion, a pretty stupid idea. Why?

There is no objective way to determine what is meritorious. All judgments of merit are biased.

Who determines what is meritorious? What criteria do they use? Are the criteria implicitly racialized or sexualized? If so (as I believe they are), then handing out opportunities based on “merit” may mean exactly the same people as extending additional privileges to white dudes who already have too many unfair privileges and don’t deserve any more.

In which case there is nothing “fair” about “merit.”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2009 3:52 pm

    Which concept of merit?

  2. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    May 5, 2009 4:27 pm

    Hi Sophia: see my “update.”

  3. May 5, 2009 4:35 pm

    Much clearer thank you.

    I think I might actually be a racist, because I thought, what is it that bugs me about “positive discrimination” and all I could come up with is that I like British culture (lies! I hate British culture :p haha, not true actually, I hate South East English Culture and despise London Culture and Urban Culture in general, the rest of the country is fine) and I worry that putting a bunch of minorities, who lets face it have their own seperate culture in prominent positions will change the cultural expressions I like into ones I either might not like or at best am unfamiliar with and AHHHH scary change!

  4. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    May 5, 2009 4:37 pm

    Ha! That in itself wouldn’t make you racist, in my opinion …

  5. May 5, 2009 5:02 pm

    Cared more about that sort of thing before I realised frankly if Muslims ruled the country instead of Liberals… …well, I can think of some advantages…

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