Jefferson, human engineering, and government

Human factors engineering/ergonomics and cybernetics can support Thomas Jefferson's position that a nation ought to acknowledge liberty.

Ergonomics empowers people, because human factors engineers design environments to be user-friendly, rejecting machines, ideas, and processes that are extremes in terms of user-unfriendly or unsafe and user-too-friendly or too safe.  Design is cybernetic, from which we derive "government."  Cybernetic-based government steers any person or process to reject extremes.  In our case, cybernetics steers the state to reject extremes in terms of aristocracy and anarchy.

To most scholars and laypersons, human factors engineering/ergonomics and cybernetics have nothing to do with government, political science, or the state.  Ergonomics books talk of aircraft cockpits, street signs, workstations, computer hardware and software, and generally any physical environment.  Similarly, cybernetics is usually associated with mathematics, biology, and communications.  Indeed, most political scientists probably do not routinely speak about deriving government from cybernetics.  But ergonomics and cybernetics have major implications for all the arts and sciences.  My book, Unified Philosophy: Interdisciplinary Metaphysics, Cyberethics, and Liberal Arts, is a human factors engineering/ergonomics and cybernetic approach to philosophy.

Social philosophy is a broad-ranging discourse or branch of philosophy.  Social thought can bring ergonomics and cybernetics to help design the state.  That design has major implications for economics, sociology, political science, international relations, law enforcement, and other social sciences and humanities.

Where Hamilton sees only the elite running the state, Jefferson believes in a citizen-friendly nation.  Jefferson rejects the citizen-unfriendly aristocracy and citizen-too-friendly anarchy (which perhaps includes libertarians).  Hamilton designs the nation to ignore or degrade citizen abilities and limits.  Jefferson is the human factors engineer/ergonomist who designs the state to take into account the people's liberty, abilities, and limits.

The Articles of Confederation provoked the response by federalists for a stronger central government.  The U.S. Constitution brings about the strong federal government, with the Bill of Rights taking into account liberty and justice.  Ergonomics engineers as cyberneticists will see the U.S. Constitution steering or designing a liberty-friendly central government.

Jefferson sees the ergonomic/cybernetic position as an ongoing, perhaps unsettled process.  He rejects ongoing demands for an elite ruling body, and continual cry for weak central government.  Both elitism here and anarchy offer simplistic solutions for the state.  Elites simply ignore the private individual.  Anarchy simplistically rejects strong central government.

Literature reveals cybernetics and ergonomics.  Homer's Odyssey tells of Odysseus steering between the dangers of Scylla and Charybdis.  Human factors engineer Jack Adams notes that design is complex and not a need to choose between design and training.  Engineers do not ignore the user and force him to merely be trained.  Neither do engineers simply cater to the user by ignoring the user's responsibility in being trained for the environment.

Jefferson sees the complexity and tensions of a humane government.  Rulers need to balance central government in terms of individual liberty.  Hamilton may have been relatively comfortable with Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan, and Robert Nozick was happy with a "minimal state" (Anarchy, State, and Utopia, 1974, p. 1X).  Yet it would be Jefferson who pleads for a liberty-based state.

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