A Paper and a Book Review

The current issue of the journal Social Science Information (vol. 49, no. 2, June 2010) features a lead article entitled “Three Arguments for Lotteries.” In addition, the current issue of Philosophical Quarterly (vol. 60, issue 240, July 2010) features a book review of Oliver Dowlen’s The Political Potential of Sortition. The relevant links are as follows:



The author of both pieces, Peter Stone, is a noted authority on lotteries. I recommend his work very highly to you all (he says tongue firmly planted in cheek).

2 Responses

  1. Could the esteemed author make the full texts available?


  2. Hi Peter,

    The argument that the function of lottery is to eliminate the possibility that certain undue factors are affecting the choice of alternative seems sound. This appears to be a good description of the effect of sampling in general, e.g., in survey sampling and in clinical trials.

    One comment: your uneasiness about non-equal chance lotteries seems unwarranted. Just like certain considerations can restrict the lottery to a certain subset of possibilities, other considerations can call for weighted sampling.

    In fact, part of the considerations applied when designing a lottery is the sampling unit. When allocating a certain resource, for example, should sampling occur by person or by household? An equal probability sampling of persons is an unequal probability sampling of households. Therefore, using an equal chance lottery with a certain sampling unit implies a certain weighting – a choice that needs to be justified just like any other weighting.


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