Structure vs. Policy

There’s a distinction I’ve been wrestling with when it comes to my good government theorizing, which I’ve best expressed as the difference between policy and structure. The quote above (from Law & Order) gets at the distinction. In this case, the goal is justice. Kincaid advocates justice by policy, working justice into the decision of when and how to prosecute a crime. McCoy suggests that the adversarial trial system is structured to produce justice, so justice can be (and indeed should be) ignored; it will fall out of a competition between a prosecutor and a defense attorneys whose goals extend no further than the court room.

Another example is democratic government, which can be said to be better than other forms because it is structured to produce beneficial laws. A benevolent dictatorship or monarchy relies on policy decisions, which are suceptible to any number of flaws. A democracy, while slower moving and less efficient, has the benefit of being structured to produce consistently good outcomes.

To my mind, the ideal systems are those that produce what they’re meant to produce structurally. They’re much harder to design, but designed properly they are much more resilient to corruption and gaming, and indeed attempted gaming is what makes them work.

Is this the right disctinction? Is it a coherent distinction? Are there better labels than structure and policy for the concepts I’m describing?

Oh I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head. And this happens to be related to your other thread concerning experimentation.

As far as the argument that competitive structure yields truer justice, nothing could be further from the truth. And frankly it really wasn’t proposed so as to accomplish that anyway. The competitive prosecution structure is merely there so as to put the final decision into the hands of a much higher judge, but not Reality itself by a long shot.

What is interesting is that despite how things play out we have all required tools at our disposable for ‘fast’ democracy. Recently I read a study that showed how collectively, the average review on amazon is as good, if not better than a pro critic singled out. More immediately, just look how truly unrestrained places like 4 chan self-govern.

Of course this begs the question of what is ‘fast enough’ and therein lies the main flaw I see with capitalism: there will always be groups that, just from things inherent to the process, transcend it. This is Fabian socialism. Where democracy slowly turns into a charade based on a kind of obvious conclusion: of course for the very smartest democracy will move too slow, and they will enact policy changes through clandestine planing.

I am tempted to say that democracy is best suited for short, individual applications.

I think it is a good/lucid distinction.

More reformist BS. What we need to fix the problems of government is even more enacted government!

The problem is that there is not enough government!

What they fail to grasp is that it was government that originally led us to our present mess.


Emm… where in the hell did you get that?
I can’t find anything on this thread even vaguely related to what you just expressed.

Carleas was proposing a distinction between justice being found through competition of lawyers versus judicial policy assessment, not that it could necessarily be found either way, but merely whether there is a valid distinction. Does getting two liars in competition to persuade the court produce more justness than getting an elected (or more realistically “appointed”) judge to simply compare an assigned policy and make an evaluation?

Obviously it would really depend upon from where the policy came, how generalized it was, and what its presumed purpose really was. On the other side of the distinction, it is an issue of the comparative talents of the liars, the prejudice of the judge, and the other policies dictating what the judge can or cannot get away with.

The true end result is that the competition of liars causes the real end effect to be controllable by those far above and out of sight, the cowardly manipulators whereas the appointed judge and policy reveals the source of any injustice going on and thus is more honest and revealing even if not more just.

In the case of the policy being the ruler, things can be improved openly and honestly. In the case of the competition of liars, the real truth throughout the entire system gets obfuscated to the point that no one could know justice or what direction to head for improvement even if it fell on them.

Yes, she is mentioning problems inherent within the system where it appears she is trying to figure out if there are solutions to it which my previous post are my conclusions that there is not.

Reformism falls flat on it’s face everytime when it is matched with the human nature of corruption and greed. How many thousands of years in philosophical thought must it take to come to this same very conclusion?

You can try to paint a pretty picture of human nature making it out to be something it isn’t but sooner or later corruption and greed come to the equation.

Most people do not want to focus on that. What they fail to realize is that if you don’t focus on that you can’t do much of anything no matter what Idealized plans or perceptions you are trying to project.

The point I indented to make was somewhere between the Jameses.

JSS, you understood the distinction in terms of the court system, which I only meant as an analogy to government as a whole. Assuming that an adversarial trial produces justice just as well as an appointed or elected judge, I would argue that the adversarial system is better because no one involved needs to be anything other than selfish in order for it to work. As McCoy says, justice is the byproduct. With a judge, when you get a good judge with a good sense of justice, you may get better results. But if you have a corrupt judge, or even a good judge who’s been backed into a corner, the whole system falls apart.

JLW, you are correct that I was discussing government as a whole, but I wasn’t advocating any particular reform. Perhaps you can fault me for trying to identify a principle of good government, as you seem to think of good government as an oxymoron.

I agree, but I think something achieved structurally is less subject to this problem than something achieved through policy. The benefit of structure is that it invites gaming, and through gaming produces the desired result as a byproduct. It can and will be transcended, but not as readily.

I also think you’re right about democracy. The great promise of technology is that things like the Amazon example are possible: democracy is immediate and pointed. That’s a structural setup that creates great information about books without e.g. hiring someone whose job it is to produce great information about books.

From chaos rises Order… but from Corruption rises Justice?
I’m afraid that I would have to see some serious backing for that notion.

What he’s saying makes sense. To me at least.

This is kind of boring, though. I think Carleas should respond in the other thread.