Quality of what? Merit-based selection and the demands of justice
- Lillian Michaela Lamboy.
- [Stanford, California] : [Stanford University], 2018.
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- 1 online resource.
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- Lamboy, Lillian Michaela, author.
- Reich, Rob, degree supervisor.
- Satz, Debra, degree supervisor.
- McQueen, Alison (Alison E. J.), degree committee member.
- Stanford University. Department of Political Science.
- Many people believe that colleges should admit students on the basis of merit: highly-qualified students should get to go to resource-rich, selective schools. Yet enacting this "merit principle" is challenging because we live in a society marked by persistent group-based inequality along the lines of race, class, nationality, sexuality, ability status, and gender. As I demonstrate in chapters one through three of this dissertation, merit is a fraught foundation for distributing educational opportunity because merit itself is endogenous: it is often constructed and evaluated in ways that reflect the biases, beliefs, and backgrounds of this with preexisting power. Given this pattern, how should selective colleges structure their admissions procedures? In chapter four, I argue that universities should create independent Merit Committees, inclusive of representatives from previously-excluded groups, that work together to define merit and determine background-sensitive proxies for measuring merit in applicants from a broad range of backgrounds. I outline three further normative principles to address concerns about background inequality and merit endogeneity: the institution-dependent merit definition principle, the adequacy principle, and the teachability principle. Guided by these principles, the Merit Committee is tasked with establishing a university-specific adequacy threshold. In chapter five I argue that colleges should randomize admission amongst all applicants who cross this adequacy threshold.
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- Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
- Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2018.
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