The problem with a single-dimensional definition of meritocracy

Focusing only on academic merit is unrealistic when we don't know what skills are needed in future. We need a meritocracy of many talents.

Those who defend meritocracy maintain that it is the best means by which resources - opportunities, scholarships, positions and so forth - are allocated in society. There is, at best, an acknowledgement of the excesses - such as inequality, elitism, disconnectedness - that a meritocracy produces.

But are these social ills merely the unintended consequences of a meritocracy that works too well? In my view, that is a fallacious and unnecessary argument. On the contrary, such ills are precisely the consequences that you should expect when a meritocracy works exactly as intended.

Please or to continue reading the full article. Learn more about ST PREMIUM.

Enjoy unlimited access to ST's best work

  • Exclusive stories and features on multiple devices
  • In-depth analyses and opinion pieces
  • ePaper and award-winning multimedia content
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2019, with the headline 'The problem with a single-dimensional definition of meritocracy'. Print Edition | Subscribe