Chapter

What Do Lotteries Do?

Peter Stone

in The Luck of the Draw

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199756100
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895120 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756100.003.0002
What Do Lotteries Do?

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This chapter defines a lottery as a process capable of generating a set of outcomes in which the particular outcome to be expected whenever the process occurs is unpredictable given available information. (This is, according to the argument given here, equivalent to saying that the outcome is random.) One implication of this decision is that whenever a decision is made by lot, the decision cannot be made on the basis of reasons. The chapter then argues that lotteries can occasionally prove desirable in decision-making precisely because they prevent decision-making on the basis of reasons. Sometimes an agent faces indeterminacy, in which the good reasons available to the agent prove indeterminate, and there is the danger that bad reasons may enter into the process. Lotteries prevent this by ensuring that the final decision is made on the basis of no reasons. Lotteries can thereby sanitize decision-making. This is called the lottery principle.

Keywords: lottery; random selection; unpredictability; decision-making; reason; indeterminacy

Chapter.  12285 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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