Rectify Misrepresentative Democracy

Greg wrote to announce a series of articles arguing against elections and offering sortition as an alternative.

Another New Sortition-Related Blog

I don’t know many blogs like this one…

…will go anywhere or have an impact, but I hope that sortition fans around the world can use blogs like this to find each other. I encourage readers to visit this new blog and say hello.

Blogging about Sortition

A recent appearance–

The Common Lot — twenty years from now

Then and Now and What’s Ahead: An “Un-Common” Interview With Sortitionist David Grant in the year 2030.

A look back and a look forward from the perspective of the year 2030 when sortitional selection of a Citizen Chamber in the U.S. Congress will have been recently instituted.

George Tridimas: When is it rational to give up rationality?

George Tridimas of the School of Economics of the University of Ulster circulates via the Kleroterians mailing list a draft of a paper, soliciting readers’ comments. The abstract is below. Please contact the author for the full text of the draft.

When is it rational to give up rationality?

Appointment to office by lot in Ancient Athens

Contrary to modern democracies ancient Athens appointed large scores of government post-holders by lottery. After describing the Athenian arrangements, I review the choice between elections and lottery from the perspective of the citizen focusing on representativeness of the population, distributive justice, minimization of political conflicts, administrative economy and policy making ability of appointees. Adopting the methodology of public choice, I then examine why a contestant for office may choose the lottery rather than elections as a method of winning office. Although the outcomes of both mechanisms are uncertain, a contestant may influence the probability of winning an election through his campaign efforts, but not of a lottery. I establish conditions for choosing one or the other mechanism depending on the availability of campaign funds and campaign effectiveness of the contestants and I show that despite its mechanical character appointment to office by lot is consistent with self-interested behaviour and can be voluntarily agreed by all contestants.

Ben Saunders: Combining Lotteries and Voting

Ben Saunders wrote a comment on Claudio López-Guerra’s The Enfranchisement Lottery:

Combining Lotteries and Voting

In recent years, a number of theorists have turned to the Athenian practice of sortition to inspire proposals for democratic reform. Some simply propose that politicians can be appointed by random selection, thereby producing a statistically representative sample of the population (Callenbach and Phillips, 2008). Others, however, seek some way of combining lotteries with the more familiar modern practice of voting. I shall confine my comments to two recent proposals. López-Guerra (2011) suggests abolishing universal suffrage, instead having only a randomly-selected sub-set of the populace vote in elections. Continue reading

A paper and a review by Ben Saunders

Ben Saunders has a paper and a review recently published:

  • Democracy, Political Equality, and Majority Rule, published in Ethics Vol. 121, No. 1 (October 2010), pp. 148-177. Abstract: Democracy is commonly associated with political equality and/or majority rule. This essay shows that these three ideas are conceptually separate, so the transition from any one to another stands in need of further substantive argument, which is not always adequately given. It does this by offering an alternative decision-making mechanism, called lottery voting, in which all individuals cast votes for their preferred options but, instead of these being counted, one is randomly selected and that vote determines the outcome. This procedure is democratic and egalitarian, since all have an equal chance to influence outcomes, but obviously not majoritarian.
  • Book Review of Barbara Goodwin’s Justice by Lottery, published in The Journal of Value Inquiry, Volume 44, Number 4, 553-556.

Paul Demont on Allotment and Democracy in Ancient Greece

A very good article, originally in French, now translated:

“Democracy arises after the poor are victorious over their adversaries, some of whom they kill and others of whom they exile, then they share out equally with the rest of the population political offices and burdens; and in this regime public offices are usually allocated by lot” (Plato, Republic VIII, 557a). “It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot, and as oligarchic when they are filled by election” (Aristotle, Politics IV. 9, 1294b8). “The characteristics of democracy are as follows: the election of officers by all out of all; and that all should rule over each, and each in his turn over all; that the appointment to all offices, or to all but those which require experience and skill, should be made by lot” (Aristotle, Politics VI. 2, 1317b17-21). This feature of ancient democracy, much commented upon by ancients and moderns alike, must be contextualized. Allotment was a common procedure for making choices in all ancient societies, democratic or not, and in Greek society of the archaic and classic periods, it often had a religious importance. Mogens H. Hansen denies this fact, in order to refute Fustel de Coulanges, who gave a fundamental place to the religious foundation of the ancient city: he observes about democratic allotment that “there is not a single reliable source that clearly proved that selection of officeholders by lot originally had a religious importance”. Here I should like to take up this question again. Allotment, considered to be an act of choosing by a divinity, plays an important role in aristocratic and predemocratic societies. In spite of what Plato and Aristotle held, it is not, in my view, allotment that defines democracy, not even ancient democracy; it is rather the establishment of democracy that gradually gives a democratic meaning to the practice of allotment in political affairs.