More on the Luck of the Draw

Thursday, July 17, 2008 -- 5:00 PM
Guest Contributor

Posted by Peter Stone

Hello All,

It's taken me a couple of days, but I am finally putting in an appearance here. Many thanks to Ken and John for having me on the show, and I hope people found the topic intriguing.

Anyone is interested in thinking further about lotteries might want to check out the a new series of books being published by Imprint Academic. The series is entitled "Sortition and Public Policy." ("Sortition" refers to selection by lot--particularly political officials, as was the standard practice in ancient Athens.) There are a number of interesting titles in the series, including a reprint of a little book entitled A Citizen Legislature, which argues that we should select the U.S. House of Representatives by lot. (I have written a new introduction for the reprint, which will appear shortly.) For more on the series, visit http://www.imprint.co.uk/books/sortition.html.

For what it's worth, I'm cautiously optimistic about the idea of bringing a little ancient Athens into the modern world by selecting officials by lot. I do think it would require a lot of further changes--i.e., we couldn't just select Congress by lot, and keep everything else the same. We would have to do a lot more to ensure that, for example, the officials selected have access to all the information they need. But that's the sort of practical problem that any serious change to the status quo must confront.

More serious, I think, is the theoretical challenge. In the modern world, most people take for granted that being a democracy means that the people elect their officials through voting.  But this wasn't the ancient understanding. Aristotle said that in a democracy, rulers were selected by lot, while in an aristocracy, the "best" are chosen through elections. (We don't usually think of our elected officials as being our "best," but that's another story.) That may be a little extreme; there's no denying that there's something democratic about elections. But there's also something democratic about lotteries, and explaining how 2 such radically different procedures can both be democratic is an important and interesting question, IMHO.

Hope that provides some food for thought. If you'd like to see more about my work, just visit my website at http://www.stanford.edu/~pstone

Comments (10)


Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, July 25, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

will you please explain what philosophers mean whe

will you please explain what philosophers mean when they use "subject", "subjectivity", and "object" and "objectivity". I know its different from the truth vs. perception dichotamy, but I can NEVER understand how one is using this term. Specifically, Marx, Badiou adn Nancy. I'm new to philosophy, so sorry if this is super basic, but I can never wrap my head around it.
example from Marx:
"If Hegel had set out from real subjects of the state he would not have found it necessary to transform the state in a mystical fashion into a subject. "In its truth however," says Hegel,"subjectivity exists only as subject, personality only as person."

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, August 2, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

In response to Joseph: Strictly speaking, 'sub

In response to Joseph:
Strictly speaking, 'subject' is a philosophical term that refers to that which thinks, senses, perceives, etc. 'Subjectivity' is the quality of being subjective (i.e. a subject). An 'object' is that which subjective experience is directed to. Consider the phrase: "I think about philosophy." In this phrase "I" is the subject and "philosophy" is the object of my thoughts). In a similar fashion, 'objectivity' is the quality of being objective (i.e. an object). There are other technical terms for subject and object in logic and metaphysics, but I do not think they're being used in that sense in the passage you quoted, so I excluded them.
In reply to Dr. Stone:
Elections by lot seem interesting, but they seem to pose some problems. Firstly, it should be noted that ancient Athens had some exceptions to elections by lot. For example, women and slaves were excluded from such elections. Given this, do you think there should be some exceptions to contemporary elections by lot? For example: should someone who is mentally handicapped be allowed to participate in such elections? What about someone who cannot speak the common language? Or a religious official? What do you think?

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

thanks a lot

thanks a lot

Guest's picture

Guest

Sunday, January 11, 2009 -- 4:00 PM

I am hoping to purchase the whole collection of Ph

I am hoping to purchase the whole collection of Philosophy Talks podcasts from 2004-2008. However, I realised this would take me an awfully long time to download! Would you please consider offering this collection on data CD-ROMs sent out in the mail for a small extra fee?
Thanks! :)
- William.

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, January 23, 2009 -- 4:00 PM

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying t

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying that there's something democratic about elections. But there's also something democratic about lotteries, and explaining how 2 such radically different procedures can both be democratic is an important and interesting question, IMHO.

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, November 16, 2009 -- 4:00 PM

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying t

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying that there's something democratic about elections. But there's also something democratic about lotteries, and explaining how 2 such radically different procedures can both be democratic is an important and interesting question, IMHO.

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, November 21, 2009 -- 4:00 PM

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying t

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying that there's something democratic about elections. But there's also something democratic about lotteries, and

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, November 28, 2009 -- 4:00 PM

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying t

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying that there's something democratic about elections. But there's also something democratic about lotteries, and .....

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, December 21, 2009 -- 4:00 PM

thank you admin.....

thank you admin.....

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, January 16, 2010 -- 4:00 PM

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying t

That may be a little extreme; there's no denying that there's something democratic about elections. But there's also something democratic about lotteries, and explaining how 2 such radically different procedures can both be democratic is an important and interesting question, IMHO.

 

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