Hierarchy, Meritocracy and Democracy

May 25, 2023 - May 26, 2023

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  • ESRC

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The political meritocrats, many of whom work on East Asian political circumstances and ideas, argue that there are considerable deficiencies of modern democratic politics, and that to address these deficiencies, core positions of authority should be allocated by merit rather than popular elections. To that end, they maintain, the democratically elected officials of the core executive and/or legislature should be constrained if not replaced by some meritocratically selected officials, chosen by examinations, interviews, peer recommendations, assessments of bureaucratic performance and so on, all of which are designed to assess one’s abilities to serve important political decision-making roles. The democracy-meritocracy debate, moreover, straddles some recent discussions of just hierarchies.

Supported by the ESRC, the University of Southampton is pleased to hold an online workshop that brings together the perspectives on any aspect of the democracy-meritocracy debate. Various scholars specialised at the debate are invited.

Submissions can, for example, address the following:

·       Whether political meritocracy is consistent with different requirements of justice/legitimacy (e.g. public reason);

·       Interpretations of normative concepts such as justice, legitimacy, authority, equality, hierarchy, democracy, meritocracy and equality, and their implications for the democracy-meritocracy debate;

·       Arguments for/against hierarchical relationships in different contexts;

·       Methods of assessing the merit of candidates for public office;

·       The relevance of epistocracy or epistemic democracy to the democracy-meritocracy debate; and

·       The feasibility of practising political meritocracy in different contexts.

Submissions exploring non-Western philosophies or other underrepresented traditions are particularly welcomed. Early career researchers are especially encouraged to apply.

Please submit your abstract (less than 700 words) to [email protected]. Authors should also attach a separate document with their name, institutional affiliation, paper title and email.

For those interested in participating in the workshop, please register using the link below:


Confirmed Speakers:

Daniel A. Bell, Pei Wang, Joseph Chan, Tongdong Bai, Loubna El Amine, Ranjoo Herr, Elena Ziliotti

Key Dates:

Abstract Submission Deadline: 30th April 2023

Decisions of Acceptance: 7th May 2023

Registration Deadline: 21st May 2023

Workshop Dates: 25th and 26th May 2023

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May 21, 2023, 11:45pm UTC

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