What authority is justified? | INFJ Forum

What authority is justified?

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Satya, Jan 21, 2009.

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Authority is the ability to exercise power over others.

    The world holds many different opinions on the justifications for authority. Followers of religions argue that their respected deities established the hierarchy of authority. Some people believe the market determines who should have authority, usually by who can best compete and obtain the most resources. Some argue that those with the best abilities and skills should have authority over those of lesser abilities and skills. Some argue that authority is obtained through the consent of the majority. Some argue that authority is only recognized through force. Some people take the position that authority should only be considered a responsibility and never as a right. Others argue that no authority is justified and people exercising power over other people is the root of evil.

    So how would you justify authority?
     
    #1 Satya, Jan 21, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  2. gOpHeR

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    I'd say that the justification to exert authority comes when something must be changed.

    But you seem to want to know where we think authority is derived. I don't believe in an inherant authority of one man over another. I think any control over another is voluntary on the part of the controled or established through brute force.

    Why it's voluntary is to maintain the status quo, maintain or bring peace, fear of retribution, and a host of other nature vs nurture variances.
     
  3. KingOfSpades

    KingOfSpades Community Member

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    I tend to fall into this camp (although "evil" is a strong word -- maybe the root of all mischief is a better way to phrase it).

    I believe very firmly in consent. I have no issue with any two adults who engage in any consenting behavior, as long as it doesn't bother me. So, if someone wants to be the leader and the other the slave, as long as they are consenting, I could care less. To me, consent is the entire basis of freedom.

    The problem is when you get into societies where people are born into various power structures. Consent gets tricky there.

    I did a report a few years back on a lot of indigenous tribes in the Americas and their various governing structures. You did see societies where kings ruled with iron fists (such as the Aztecs for examples) but you also see places where leaders didn't have any other authority other than to build consensus. I think that is about as legitimate as authority can get -- leading through example, convincing people something is proper.

    The moment you bring force and violence into the question, consent is lost because now there is a threat of harm.

    Do I act this way in my everyday life? I try to do the best I can, but yes, I will take orders from my boss so that I won't get fired and can have a steady paycheck. I don't like it, but I try to be aware of the choices and compromises I make everyday. I will say though that my best bosses have always been people who have led by example and with intelligence, never by yelling at their subordinates (I've had a few of those too).
     
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  4. Wyote

    Wyote Dad of the Ded
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    It should only be considered a responsibility, and should be reserved for the most intelligent, who use their authority for the purpose of maximizing utility only.

    Unfortunately it's completely backwards from that.
     
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    #4 Wyote, Jan 22, 2009
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  5. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    Among a group where a leader does not have much authority other than to "build consensus" seems like something that would only be possible on a very small population of people. It seems that type of leadership or authority would be impossible in a mass society where it's doubtful there could ever be such a mass consensus and disagreeable rules and policies would be imposed on many.

    Then again, that's how democracy deals with that issue, philosophically at least.

    I guess I could state the obvious and say authority works to create structure and order, and to form a functional society that self-perpetuates.

    A society without authority would be utopia. A society without authority could only work if each individual within that society asked, as Dewey wrote, "What self is called to do in relation to others.” Because, “There is no self until you ask what self is called to do in relation to others and “The good of each is the good of all and the good of all is the good of each.”

    Ironically enough, so long as people strive against one another in life, there is need for authority (even though it can be said that authority strives against the people by exploiting them and treating them unjustly.) Without the threat of punishment under authority and policy making by those with our 'best interests in mind', our society as it is would decay pretty fast.

    Now, if people were all allowed to become educated, and if all people were concerned for the lives of others and for others' quality of life.. and if we did not need an exploited and impoverished class of workers to bear the weight of the wealthier-- maybe we wouldn't need authority.

    Though I'm talking about Marxism, I'm not sure Communism is a viable solution.

    But, do y'all think people on a mass scale are even capable of building this type of society without authority?
    Great post!!!!!!!!!!!
     
    #5 acd, Jan 22, 2009
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  6. IndigoSensor

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    the word athority holds a very negative meaning for me personally. It makes me think of someone controling others with no compassion whatsoever.

    I detest athority, and when someones tries to be athoratative to me, I buck it by instinct.
     
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  7. Pristinegirl

    Pristinegirl Well-known member

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    Authority reminds me of any form of control as well. I hate the feeling of being supressed and held under control by one like I'm a marionett-doll.

    Dissregarding political belief's, they are all the same.. keep society under control.
     
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  8. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    What would an uncontrolled society look like to you?
     
  9. KingOfSpades

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    Maybe part of the problem is the need for mass collectives. Why do the same set of rules need to apply to 300 million people, as they do today in America (and as the EU is trying to strive for in Europe)? I'm not talking about a common market -- large markets can certainly be advantageous (lower costs to produce, lower insurance rates, etc) -- but a common "authority". Empire building has seemingly been a hobby of our species for many thousands of years, typically with detrimental outcomes.

    Agreed. We live in a society that fosters individualism and competition but without the complentary obligations of civic responsibility. This leads to people taking advantage of each other, which in turn requires some type of police force or coercive authority to keep people in line. I am with you that education, especially educating people on their responsibilities in life, would go a long way in reducing authority.

    I view freedom and authority as a zero sum game. The more authority you have in a society, the less freedom. You can't have a police state where there is a lot of freedom -- it's a contradictory notion. And I really cherish freedom. But part of being free means recognizing one's responsibilities -- especially to control oneself. If you can't control yourself, then you need someone to control and police you. This is why authority seems so justified today, because we seem to live in a society where people can't control themselves, or at least where they are brainwashed into thinking that they need a police force to control them.
     
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    #9 KingOfSpades, Jan 22, 2009
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  10. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    Yeah, that's interesting.. the need for mass collectives.. Are you talking about splitting the U.S into 50 separate nations? I'm kind of not joking, I've wondered what it would be like (though impossible) I've thought about it. It seems the larger the number in one population, the greater the need for a police force because there seems to be less of an attitude of civic obligation among individuals. I quote Dewey frequently, but he said something about how democracy is only possible in a face-to-face community.
     
    #10 acd, Jan 22, 2009
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  11. Pristinegirl

    Pristinegirl Well-known member

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    Hmm interesting question, I'm not really sure how to answer but I would have to say: a society that emphasises humanity, empathy and compassion. Maybe lessen the eroding path of society as in 'sex sells' and competative mallicious behaviour.
    Also ultimately religion wouldn't be pressurized in an uncontrolled society, as in 'if you don't believe you go to hell or only roman catholics go to heaven etc ..'
     
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  12. mayflow

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    I think in a sense that certain people have the capacity to be like this, Pristinegirl. You certainly seem to. The thing I think is this, though. Some people can be and think like you do here, and they can do it if the society is conducive to it, and they can also do it in Nazi Germany, and it is the true heart of that individual which will always triumph in any and all circumstances.
     
  13. Pristinegirl

    Pristinegirl Well-known member

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    OH MAYFLOW, it makes me soo happy to know that you acknowledge it. And I agree, of course there will most likely never be a wonder society as described however if we worked towards it, we would definetly get better =) If people in Nazi germany, under a gun can, then so can we!

    "it is the true heart of that individual which will always triumph in any and all circumstances" - This is my inspiration of today!!

    There will always be authorities more or less, but the extremes and uncompassionate ones - are the lost ones. Even thouh Obama is an authority figure I fully believe he will improve within the field of humanities.
     
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  14. KingOfSpades

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    Maybe not splitting up but power should be decentralized. we'd probably have fewer culture wars if you just let important decisions being made lower on the food chain. the point of the US was originally to let states handle most everything, with the federal gov't just handling defense, interstate commerce, foreign policy, etc....the power of the federal gov't has grown tremendously tho since then. viva california! and so on.

    I've never read Dewey but he sounds sweet...care to recommend a good read??

    how awesome to hear this written out like this....tolerant, humanist, respect for others...would definitely be a wonderful place to live. maybe we are all humanists at heart here, lol!! certainly dreamers.
     
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    #14 KingOfSpades, Jan 23, 2009
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  15. Pristinegirl

    Pristinegirl Well-known member

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    I certaintly believe we are and maybe that is why we disslike authority, because they often abuse their power. And so we fear the worst.. I certaintly wonder sometimes... like yesterday I saw a documentary on a guy in USA who was up for the death penalty for murdering a little girl when he was a gang member. He claimed he was innocent and had counter claims and evidence supporting his argument. Still the judges were not on his side. He appealed though and was sentenced for lifetime.

    I just can't imagine what it would be like going to court heading for death by judges, nonetheless if I was innocent with evidence and STILL be sentenced.. I just cannot understand it. If someone does, please clarify :/ It got me agitated.
     
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  16. the

    the Si master race.
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    I say that authority is the right to exercise power (control) over others. Just shooting from the hip I say it is only good to do so when everyones best interests are in mind. Or in lieu of that, when everyone except your own interests are involved.
     
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  17. Silently Honest

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    I hate this thread, you're all banned and this thread is going to be deleted.
     
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  18. OP
    Satya

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    Totally an ISTJ answer.
     
  19. OP
    Satya

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    Good. I'll get more work done. :p
     
  20. TheLastMohican

    TheLastMohican Captain Obvious
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    Pending such action, I will IP ban you and all who agree with you.


    Your call.
     
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