Comparative Ethical Analysis of Competition in Academia: Academic Massification and Academic Elitism?

By Parhizgar, Kamal Dean | Competition Forum, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Comparative Ethical Analysis of Competition in Academia: Academic Massification and Academic Elitism?


Parhizgar, Kamal Dean, Competition Forum


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This article is a comparative ethical analysis between academic massification and academic elitism. The research undertaken revealed that there are fundamental significant differences between academic justice and academic fairness. Specifically, with regard to the causal deontological and consequential utilitarian end results both models were generally concerned about the problems faced by families and communities concerning equal opportunities and equitable competitive opportunities for admitting and educating students in colleges and universities. Analysis of perceptual similarities and differences, however, revealed that more variable perceptions exist between academic massification and academic elitism systems. Although both set of models consistently placed greater emphasis on the issue of competitive meritocracy among students, academic massification showed more tendency to emphasize similarities to prevail justice and academic elitism emphasized more on cost-benefit analysis.

Keywords: Elitism, Massivism, Massification, Meritarian, Equalitarian, Equitabilitarian

INTRODUCTION

The words justice, fairness, equality, and equity are frequently heard by all of us. They are parts of the claims in democratic nations. As we become more aware of multicultural differences, we may tend to doubt that words like justice refer to objective universally oriented values and that fairness is more oriented to the generosity of mind. Justice and fairness are essentially comparative. They are concerned with comparative treatments given to the members of a group when benefits and burdens are distributed, and when rules and the laws are administered, when members of a group cooperate or compete with each other.

There are at least three interpretations of justice, ranging from (1) meritarian (2) to equalitarian and (3) to equitablitarian. The meritarian view of justice is that the good things in life should be distributed in accordance with equality at the started point and be assessed at the end result. The competitive meritarian justice coins with those who work hard deserve or merit more than those who do not (Deutsch, 1989: 142). The second basic account of equitabilitarian justice to be considered, as the Marxist view is usually summed up in the expression, "from each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her needs." This system emphasizes on distributive justice rather than contributive justice. The third basic account is based upon the equalitarian view that underlies the values of many cultures in this world. Their position is life is based upon the theses of Social Darwinism; the survival of the fittest and the demise of the weakest and sickest. This is known as elitism.

Fairness is something we have all grown up hearing as praised. It is related to the equitability of opportunities, not equality of outcomes. Most of us, through our senses of humanity, accept it, but not all. Nevertheless, many of us may suspect what are just, fair, equal, and equitable treatments of self and others. French and Granrose (1995: 123) indicated: "...Commitment to some basic sense of fairness is deeply rooted in virtually all of us. This will be illustrated by a hypothetical conversation between a student and an ethical instructor by arguing about the nature of justice and fairness as follows:

STUDENT: Values are relative and one person's are as good as another's.

TEACHER: No, some peoples are better than others and deserve to be treated well.

STUDENT: No, values are relative, and no one can impose personal values on another.

TEACHER: Values are not relative, and if you do not agree then I will flunk you.

STUDENT: That would not be fair.

TEACHER: Are you trying to impose your view of what is fair on me?

STUDENT: I think I see your point.

This type of dialectic argument casts doubt on a glib relativism and suggests that beneath our occasional skepticism about the claims of morality lies what might be called a moral presupposition that has to do with fairness and not with justice. …

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