Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.
Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, cites principles as his key to success.
It is the rare dispute that is resolved to both parties' equal satisfaction. Imagine you are having an argument with your neighbor about a tree of theirs that has fallen onto your property. Who is responsible for its removal? Who owns the firewood? Who pays for the damage? While you might not be able to resolve the disagreement yourselves, the legal system has procedures and guidelines that allow it to determine what's true and what to do about it, and once it renders its judgment it's done, even if one of you didn't get what you wanted. That's just the way life is.
At Bridgewater, our principles and policies work in essentially the same way, providing a path for settling disputes that's not unlike what you'd find in the courts (though it's less formal). Having such a system is essential in an idea meritocracy, because you can't just encourage people to think independently and fight for what they believe is true. You also have to provide them with a way to get past their disagreements and move forward.
Managing this well is especially important at Bridgewater because we have so much more thoughtful disagreement than other places. While in most cases people disagreeing can work things out on their own, it is still often the case that people can't agree on what's true and what to do about it. In those cases, we follow our procedures for believability-weighted voting and go with the verdict; or, in the cases where the RP wants to do it his/her way contrary to the vote and has the power to do so, we accept that and move on.
In the end, people who join our idea meritocracy agree to abide by our policies and procedures and the decisions that come out of them, just as if they had taken a dispute to court and had to abide by its procedures and the resulting verdict. This requires them to separate themselves from their own opinion and avoid getting angry when a decision doesn't go their way. If people don't follow the agreed-upon paths, they don't have the right to complain about either the people they disagree with or the idea-meritocratic system itself.
In those rare cases where our principles, policies, and procedures fail to make clear how a disagreement should be resolved, it is everyone's responsibility to raise that fact so the process can be clarified and improved.