Social calculus

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This page may just represent physics envy, but I don't really care; when ideas seem expressible in some rigorous fashion, it seems worth making a note of this.

I had originally written this as:

  • authority = power + responsibility
    • ...that is, all (social/political) power is made up of some mixture of (rational) justification and (received) authority.
    • ...where "authority" is somewhat synonymous with "justification" and "accountability"
  • Ideally, there would be equal portions of each: there should be no authority without responsibility and no responsibility without authority
    • authority - responsibility = despotism (someone has freedom to act without regard to consequence)
    • responsibility - authority = unfair burden (someone takes the blame or pays the price, but was/is powerless to solve the problem for which they are being penalized; e.g. scapegoating)

This suggests that one could plot any individual's place in society on a two-dimensional axis, with one dimension being responsibility and the other being authority (if you can figure out how to quantify them). Plotting a large random sample of individuals on the same graph might display distinctive patterns for any given society.

Note that responsibility can be enforced by nature as well as artificially. For example, a pregnant woman has natural responsibility for her fetus, because she will personally deal with the consequences of action or inaction regarding said fetus; a driver has natural responsibility for driving, because s/he may be injured or killed if s/he does not drive safely.

...but I'm no longer sure this makes sense. What seems to make more sense now is this:

I need to think this through and work up a set of adequate terminology.


  • Power and privacy should be inversely related.