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PSCI 2014 Authority & Metis

by: windwalkerr

PSCI 2014 Authority & Metis PSCI 2014

Virginia Tech

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About this Document

These notes cover the lectures from 4.19.16 and 4.21.16 on Authority and Metis, which is a concept that is derived from Greek, meaning "cunning" or "cunning intelligence".
Introduction to Political Theory
Rohan Kalyan
Class Notes
political, Theory, political science, metis, authority
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by windwalkerr on Thursday April 21, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSCI 2014 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University taught by Rohan Kalyan in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 18 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Political Theory in Political Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


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Date Created: 04/21/16
Authority 4.19.16 Metis 4.21.16 Key questions  What are the costs/benefits of giving gov’t authority over individuals?  Where does state authority end & individual autonomy begin, & vice versa?   What are the limits to gov’t authority?   What is the relationship btw political authority & social change?   Should gov’t actively shape or merely respond to social, cultural, technological & ecological  changes?   Can & should gov’t regulate public morality?  Anarchism (Review)  Emma Goldman’s definition: “philosophy of new social order based on liberty unrestricted by  man­made law; theory that all forms of gov’t rest on violence & are therefore wrong & harmful,  as well as unnecessary” o Against organized religion, private property, & gov’t   What is valued? o Self­gov’t  Individual autonomy, follow your own rules o Voluntarism  o Horizontalism  o Occupation Robert Paul Wolff Conflict btw Authority & Autonomy   Two kinds of states in political thinking: o Political science: positive state (de facto) meaning it exists  o Political philosophy/theory: normative state (de jure) meaning by right   Aura of authority: state’s monopoly over legitimate use of violence  o “we become conditioned to respond to visible signs of officiality, such as printed forms  & badges”  o “all beliefs in authority may be wrong”   Despite de facto authority, all beliefs could be wrong  o “every man who possesses both free will & reason has an obligation to take responsibility for his actions. Even after he has subjected himself to will of another, an individual  remains responsible for what he does”   **individual authority can never be usurped by any authority   “moral condition demands that we acknowledge responsibility & achieve autonomy wherever &  whenever possible”  “contemporary American, has obligation to master enough modern science to enable him to  follow debates about nuclear policy & come to independent conclusion”  Wolff­ On obligations  Primary obligation of man is autonomy: refusal to be ruled o Duty to obey laws simply bc they are laws  “defining mark of state is authority, right to rule” o “he will deny that he has duty to obey laws of state simply bc they are the laws” Authority 4.19.16 Metis 4.21.16 o “concept of de jure legitimate state would appear to be vacious, & philosophical  anarchism would be see nas only reasonable political belief for enlightened man”   MLK (1963) on just & unjust laws: o We have obligation to disobey certain laws  o Two types of laws   Legal & moral duty to obey just laws  However, moral obligation to refuse to obey unjust laws   You don’t have to be an anarchist to have a critical and questioning disposition  against gov’t  o You can respect individual autonomy w/ respect to gov’t authority  o You don’t have to obey all laws just bc they are laws   No gov’t is beyond questioning  Milton Friedman Role of gov’t in a free society (1962)  Absolute freedom is desirable but impossible  Gov’t needed only as rule­maker & umpire  In all other matters, market (voluntary exchange) obviates need for political consensus (politics  only breeds division)   Exceptions for free market rule: o Technical monopolies (public utilities, public infrastructure)  o Neighborhood effects ­> “when actions of individuals have effects on others for which it  is not feasible to charge or recompense them” Friedman: Deregulation   “there is no formula that can tell us where to stop (i.e. where public & private sector overlap). We must rely on our fallible judgment & having reached a judgment, on our ability to persuade our  fellow men that it is correct judgment, & their ability to persuade us to modify our views.”   “consistent liberal is not an anarchist”  De regulate: o Agricultural subsidies o Tariffs on imports/restriction on exports o Rent control o Minimum wage rates o Industries/banking o Control of radio o Social security o Public housing o National parks o Mail carrying o Toll roads  Garrett Hardin  Problem w/ Smith’s invisible hand viz population Tragedy of the commons Authority 4.19.16 Metis 4.21.16  Rational being seeks to maximize their gain: “what is utility to me of adding one more animal to  my herd?” utility has one negative & one positive component o Positive component is function of increment of one animal. Since herdsman receives all  proceeds from sale of additional animal, the positive utility is +1 o Negative component is function of additional overgrazing created by one more animal.  Since however, effects of overgrazing are shared by all the herdsmen, negative utility for  any particular decision making herdsman is only a fraction of ­1.   If left alone, people will overuse common resources  “each man is locked into system that compels them to increase his herd w/o limit­ in world that is  limited­ freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”  Page & Simmons   Main question: “what should gov’t do about extensive poverty & extreme & growing inequality  of income & wealth in US?”  o Nothing you can do? ­> trust market forces to fairly reward merit & punish sloth; costs of gov’t interference is individual freedom & bureaucratic inefficiency; can anything  actually be done about poverty & inequality?  o Something ­> the idea of a free market without gov’t: an idea that some libertarians seem  to embrace, is an illusion. Gov’ts create & enforce property rights & other legal  arrangements that make modern markets possible.  And gov’ts not only create markets, but also inevitably alter & modify markets  by making choices among host of alternative legal arrangements, many of which  have important implications for poverty & inequality. It would be rather peculiar  to attack legitimacy of any and all gov’t: “interference” with private economy  when gov’t action makes such an economy possible. Real question is what sorts  of gov’t action are desirable & what sorts are not Are markets really “free”? (Chang)  We are told by economists that markets need to be kept free of gov’t interference in order to  operate efficiently   Example of child labor laws  o Before their enactment, many respectable people judged child labor regulation to be  against principles of free market o Their argument: the children want & need to work, & factors owners want to employ  them; what’s the problem?   “freedom of a market is in the eyes of the beholder”   “we see regulation when we don’t endorse the moral values behind it”  Metis 4.21.16 Review of rulers & authority  Rulers in western democracy: representatives (guardians) vs tyranny of majority   Rulers in non­western democracy: political society vs civil society   Authority in western world: anti­gov’t, minimal gov’t, welfare state, moral state   Authority in non­western world: gov’t attempts to rule through modernism/modernization  Authority 4.19.16 Metis 4.21.16 Metis: practical knowledge (how­particular) Techne: technical knowledge (how­universal) Episteme: theoretical knowledge (why­universal)  Metis  “we can find in Greek concept of metis a means of comparing forms of knowledge embedded in  local experience w/ more general, abstract knowledge deployed by state & its technical agencies”   “metis resists simplification into deductive principles which can successfully be transmitted  through book learning, bc environments in which it is exercised are so complex & non repeatable  that formal procedures of rational decision making are impossible to apply” Modernism always breaks from tradition. High modernism  Everything new is good and global  Everything old is bad and local  Function over form o Function is universal   Using scientific rationality & new technology to solve social problems, improve social condition  Ideology of high­modernism: tabula rasa; centralized state as rational actor, agent of change  (new/global) is always superior to traditional (old/local)   Main question: why do well­intentioned high­modernist projects designed to improve human  condition so often fail & lead to disaster? o Great leap forward in china o Collectivization in Russia o Forest simplification in Tanzania  o Urban planning in brazil/delhi   Centralized plans impose schematic visions that do violence to complex interdependencies that  cannot be fully understood in strictly rational technical way   High modernist schemes 1. Administrative ordering of nature/society  2. High­modernist ideology: confidence in science to improve every aspect of human life 3. Willingness to use authoritarian state forces to pursue large­scale visions  Modernism & metis  “any large social process or event will inevitably be far more complex than schemata we can  devise, prospectively or retrospectively to map it.”   “high modernism presumes that everything that is important can be measured/quantified”  Conversely, everything that immeasurable must be unimportant (can be ignored)  Scott: any modernist plan that ignores metis is doomed to fail  Example of metis (work to rule) Authority 4.19.16 Metis 4.21.16  You show up to work and do everything exactly as it was written o Work slows down so much that it is unproductive   “employees being do their jobs by meticulously observing every rule & performing only duties  stated in their job descriptions. Result, fully intended, is that work grinds to a halt, or to snail’s  pace”   Work to rule “illustrates pointedly how actual work processes depend more heavily on informal  understandings & improvisations than upon formal work rules”  Examples of metis (micro finance)   is a general term to describe financial services to low­income individuals or to those who do not  have access to typical banking services. Microfinance is also the idea that low­income individuals are capable of lifting themselves out of poverty if given access to financial services. Examples of metis (language learning)  “we don’t begin by learning alphabet, individual words, parts of speech, & rules of grammar &  then trying to use them all in order to produce grammatically correct sentence.”   


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