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Random JusticeOn Lotteries and Legal Decision-Making$
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Neil Duxbury

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268253

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268253.001.0001

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Lotteries within Legal Frameworks

Lotteries within Legal Frameworks

(p.142) 5 Lotteries within Legal Frameworks
Random Justice

Neil Duxbury

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines a fairly modest and distinctly provisional case for greater reliance on lotteries within specific (primarily legal) contexts. It seems reasonable to ask why anybody should opt for normativity. This question might be prompted by two reservations, one general and one quite specific. The general reservation concerns the very point of normative legal theory. The use of randomization in legal contexts may have positive effects on people's incentives and might also, on occasions, turn out to be cost-efficient and just. One of the reasons we tend to be resistant to resorting to chance or sortition for social or legal decision-making is that we very often consider the lottery to be a device which is both pure and inflexible: we are prone to assuming, that is, that the lottery must only be capable of producing equiprobable outcomes and that, as a decision-making mechanism, it must operate in isolation. Neither assumption is warranted. Lotteries do not have to generate equiprobable outcomes. They may be usefully combined with other methods of allocation and adjudication.

Keywords:   lotteries, normativity, legal theory, randomization, sortition, legal decision-making, equiprobable outcomes, allocation, adjudication, chance

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