>The fundamental principle I'm adhering to is this: If we are to judge, >then I'd usually prefer that we go by what a person can help rather >than by what a person can't help. I accept the claim that aptitude is >something that we can't help. And so I'd usually prefer that we judge >on some other basis. > >Paul
I don't think we'll be able to completely ignore genetics without imposing some sort of oppressive dictatorship. The resulting society would likely be quite distopian. Science fiction (a genre for simulation) would be a good place to explore your proposed policies (insofar as you become explicit about them -- so far, you've raised "fairness" as an issue, but given little indication of what your preferred rule book would be).
However, even if way give ample weight to genetics and the diversity of aptitudes it provides, increasing fairness is still possible. You've used the words "judge" and "punish" in the same breath a few times. It doesn't have to be that way.
When I look at an animal, vegetable or mineral and judge it to be this or that, I'm simply sorting.
There was a time in the USA (today is election day) when women weren't allowed to vote. That was a punishment, or depravation, that we overcame. Increasing women's access to economic opportunity and positions of responsibility and power is still something to work on. By the same token, we're giving men more opportunities to parent, become nurses, perform other roles traditionally played by women.
There was a time when the common prejudice was women didn't have the "aptitude" to be CEOs or whatever. Such stereotypes are changable, but it often takes a generation or more to accomplish the change (or really powerful television).
Obviously I could run through all the same points regarding "race" (which is a far more suspect concept to begin with, than male vs. female, in the eyes of genetic science).
However, I also think we need to work with the grain that genetics contributes to the picture.
If someone has an aptitude for X, and will be able to perform the job in 2 weeks, I shouldn't be forced to provide 30 weeks of training to "help" someone with no aptitude, and who's performance, after all that, might still not be on a par with the high aptitude candidate's.
That's if there are no off-setting advantages -- and there may be (e.g. the person needing more training is a joy to be with, whereas the high aptitude person pisses everyone off big time (OK, 30 weeks training it is)).
Nor should society as a whole have to pay the price of artificially leveling the playing field. If someone has no aptitude around visualizing machinery and how car engines work, or has no manual dexterity to speak of, why should we squander resources trying to turn these two into car mechanic or surgeon respectively?
Do you want your brain operated upon by someone with no aptitude, just lots and lots of compensatory practice (practice on whom)?
What I think the world needs are more venues for people to audition. They go to temp agencies, do a typing and 10-key test, maybe a personality profile, then get sent to a cube to do some clerical stuff. The Hollywood and TV venues are cram packed with aspirants, many of them quite talented. Theater languishes (I just saw a guy play all parts in King Lear, and do it well, with only about six people in the audience).
Off stage, we have huge numbers of humans given no chance to audition whatsoever. A kid is born in Sudan, has plenty of IQ, could really go places. He gets insufficient nutrition (no fault of his parents, who desperately do what they can), and dies. Even a temp agency job would have been far far better. Besides, some companies use temp agencies to provide audition opportunities -- even with the finder's fee it's an easier way to select new staff.
So when it comes to fairness, I think our humanly-contrived economic system has a way poorer track record (in terms of achievement), than the genetic system (in terms of aptitude). I'd rather pay attention to genetic aptitudes, and use the various diverse talents nature gives us, to fill meaningful jobs that'd work at implementing major changes in human affairs, especially with regard to death by starvation still being such a huge factor.
I'm hungry to employ all the natural talent I can get, and I really don't have time to provide a lot of compensatory training. The situation is too urgent, too ugly. The kind of fairness you're talking about is just unaffordable right now, in light of all those global university students who get no opportunity to audition whatsoever. Their situation takes priority.
The curriculum is broken (witness Sudan). Let's recruit the most creative, imaginative, and talented people we can to fix it (and just because you're already a college professor doesn't necessarily mean you have the most aptitude for this work (but you should have ample opportunities to audition, certainly)).
PS: in breaking the model down to genetics vs. economics, one might wonder where I'm leaving room for those who see karma operating on other informational planes. Just bear with me -- I'm sure you'll find a way to squeeze your meaning between the lines somehow.