I’ve decided to copy-cat a style of argumentation which is prominent among democrats and socialists in the philosophy literature. This move will now render me and my work immune from criticism.
By epistocracy, I henceforth mean not only a system that gives greater weight to the wise during voting, but which actually makes substantively wise decisions! Thus, any time a seemingly epistocratic decision-system makes a bad choice–such as a choice that runs afoul of the demographic objection–it wasn’t *true* or *real* epistocracy! Epistocracy by definition always makes the wisest choices. Therefore, to oppose epistocracy is to oppose good choices and favor bad ones.
The notable thing about this proposal is that it commits the very fallacy it supposedly claims to parody. Because nowhere does Brennan show that epistocracy “gives greater weight to the wise,” as though Jason the Epistocrat had devised some reliable procedure for tracking actual, substantive political wisdom, and then decided to give this thing “greater weight.” He seems here to have conjured that “proof” into existence by an act of imagination, in a precise self-parody of the view he claims to be making fun of. What he’s done in his published work is to identify some (tendentious, highly contestable) necessary conditions of correct voting. What he’s done in this blog post is to transmute that, by an act of philosophical alchemy, into “wisdom.”
Nor could he show that epistocracy “gives greater weight to the wise during voting.” Wisdom is a trait of character. But Brennanite voters are not permitted to vote for anyone on grounds of character, unless the trait in question can either be reduced to a normatively ideal set of policy prescriptions, or be shown to be an operationalizable proxy for such a set. Brennan has done neither thing as far as wisdom is concerned. Neither has anyone else. So Brennanite voters couldn’t, consistently with Brennan’s own strictures on voting, “give greater weight to the wise” qua wise–unless they stipulated with a straight face that epistocracy does so by definition. This last result raises the question of who is parodying whom. It also raises the question whether Brennan’s dogma of insisting (in ad hoc fashion) on “Muh Social Science” is really a practicable way of conducting political life in the world inhabited by Homo sapiens sapiens these last 100,000 years or so.
Sometimes the best part of wisdom is to leave parodies alone, whether as a matter of character or of policy.