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Justice by Lottery

In this imaginative and provocative book, Barbara Goodwin explores the question of how lottery systems can achieve egalitarian social justice in societies with seemingly ineradicable inequalities.

She begins with the utopian fable of Aleatoria, a country not unlike our own in the not-too-distant-future, where most goods are distributed by lottery—even the right to have children. She then analyzes the philosophical arguments for and against lottery distribution and a comparison of "justice by lottery" with other contemporary theories of justice.

Goodwin also applies her theory to practical problems in the real world which could be—or have been—justly resolved by the use of lotteries, such as military drafts, jury duty, and immigration eligibility. She demonstrates that in many areas, including that of political power, a regular and random reallocation of goods would be a fairer and more democratic method than the distributive systems found in liberal democracies today.

224 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1992

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Political Science: Political and Social Theory

Table of Contents

Part I - Preamble
1. Fragment from the Future
2. Justice and the Lottery
Borges’s fable
Liberal justice
Babylonian justice?
A new view of justice?
Part II - The Process
3. Are Lotteries Just?
Early uses of lotteries
Advantages and disadvantages
The concept of distribution
The ’primal logic’ of distribution
Uncertainty and risk
Beyond freedom and dignity
Equality, elites and control
4. Towards Equality
Assumptions of equality
Ineradicable inequalities
Equality of life chances
The democratization of society
Further advantages of the lottery
5. The Theory of the Lottery
The lottery as procedure
The mechanism of reflexivity
Risk aversion, self-interest and equality
Human nature
Procedure and theory
How random is random?
Means and ends
Choosing equality
Ideological considerations
Part III - Applications
6. A More Modest Proposal
The virtues of rotation
Political rotation
Democracy and rotation
Rotation of work
The modest uses of rotation
7. The Lottery In Practice
The sinister reputation of lotteries
The return to favour
The lot as decision process
Democracy and lottery
Lotteries and the legal system
Economic lotteries
Necessary burdens
Social uses of the lottery
Tragic choices
Using lotteries today
Part IV - The Lottery as Justice
8. Theories of Social Justice
The structures of theories
Matching goods to people
Permutations of justice
The procedural approach
9. Conclusions
The place of the Untermensch in theories of justice
Market justice
Justice and other goods

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