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Some Concise Definitions

Below I have slightly altered the relevant entry from Wiktionary.org The alterations are bracketed and in bold.

authority

Noun

authority (countable and uncountable; plural authorities)

1. (un{ac}countable) The power to enforce rules or give orders.

I have the authority to penalise the staff in my department, but not the authority to sack them.

She lost all her respect and authority after turning up drunk to the meeting.

Respect my authority!


2. (used in singular or plural form) Persons in command; specifically, government.


3. ({ac}countable) A person accepted as a source of reliable information on a subject. The world's foremost authority on orangutans.


Origins and Changes in Emphasis

You'll note that the third definition is the only given rationalization of the first two definitions; that is, the principle of authority, and the placement of specific persons as authorities, can only be justified in terms of the ability to draw up standards which are definitive for the time that they are upheld as being standards. They may later be superseded by standards which are more fitting for a later time, changing circumstances, or as a result of an evolution of the body of thought and theory, but authoritative standards are seen as being clearly superior to any other body of work relevant to the same subject.

Now ask yourself, "Where do I see a clearly superior set of standards being upheld by those same persons who have the power and supposed 'authority' to enforce these standards?". The answer, all too often, is that you will find no such thing, and far more often, a hideous perversion of such clarity.

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