Michael Phillips

Michael Phillips, who coauthored with Ernest Callenbach the book A Citizen Legislature (2nd ed., Imprint Academic, 2008), recently posted on his blog about selection by lot. (In A Citizen Legislature, he and Callenbach propose the selection of the U.S. House of Representatives by lot.) The posting can be found at


The posting provides some useful context regarding the book. I had thought that Phillips might no longer endorse the ideas in the book, and so it is interesting to see that he does.

I do, however, sincerely hope that the opening line is meant to be tongue-in-cheek:

“I know that among the many many contributions to human thought for which I will get credit long after I die, the use of random selection for political bodies will be one for which I will get credit.”

2 Responses

  1. The interesting (and reassuring) thing is that pretty well everyone working in this field (apart from Peter who, if I recall correctly, was just looking for a PhD topic) thinks they have invented sortition through their own sheer intellectual brilliance, only to discover they were re-inventing a very worn wheel. To my mind this makes sortition look like a natural “archetypal” intuition, rather than just another a crazy theory.



  2. The recurring independent re-discovery of sortition is not only a testimony to its appeal but also a testimony to the power of the orthodoxy to control public discourse and knowledge.


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