Two New Publications

I’ve recently published two articles that might prove of interest. First, I wrote a review essay dealing with the Imprint Academic series on Sortition and Public Policy. It’s just appeared in the latest issue of Redescriptions: Yearbook of Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory (volume 16, 2012/2013). It’s been in the pipeline for a while, and so regrettably does not cover the latest offerings in the series (such as Conall Boyle’s interesting book on educational lotteries). The issue is at https://jyx.jyu.fi/dspace/handle/123456789/42047

Second, Comparative Education Review just published a symposium on “Fair Access to Higher Education: A Comparative Perspective” (volume 57, no. 3, August 2013). It contains a paper of mine entitled “Access to Higher Education by the Luck of the Draw.” The paper deals with university admissions in general and the Irish case in particular. It’s available on JSTOR at http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/669235, but only if your library/university subscribes.

Sorry to be incommunicado. I’ve been away for much of the summer, and have a very busy term ahead of me, but I hope to rejoin the conversation soon.

Advertisements

13 Responses

  1. Dear Peterstone,

    You wrote:

    “Second, Comparative Education Review just published a symposium on “Fair Access to Higher Education: A Comparative Perspective” (volume 57, no. 3, August 2013). It contains a paper of mine entitled “Access to Higher Education by the Luck of the Draw.”

    Better then the “Luck of the Draw” one should use a fair and pure ability test, for example, the ACT. You can freely download the test at:

    http://www.ru.nl/pwo/olo/test-cbo/tests/act_english_welcome/

    If you want to know more, please, feel free to contact me at

    a.vanderven@pwo.ru.nl

    Like

  2. Sad to see a Dutch person who does not recognise the sublime wisdom exercised in the Netherlands, and validated by your own Prof. Piet Drenth in the use of Fair Lotteries in Medical School entry!

    (Peter, I take it your paper on “Access to HE..” is more or less the same as the 2011 paper of the same title you circulated earlier. If so perhaps a re-link might help)

    Like

  3. Peter, we’ve missed your contributions and look forward to your rejoining the debate — in particular I’d appreciate your views on some of the very astute comments that André Sauzeau has made recently.

    Like

  4. Peter,

    You write:

    Dowlen believes that the historical record of sortition yields one particularly important conclusion. “The most significant and fundamental reason that lot is used in the selection of public officers,” he argues, “is to inhibit the power that any individual or group of individuals might seek to exercise over that process of selection” (Dowlen’s emphasis; p. 221). The arationality that all lotteries possess is ideally suited for this task. For if no human faculty can influence the selection process for a political official, then no political boss or strongman can take control of the political process by installing his minions in key positions. Granted, the lottery also precludes selection on the basis of merit, qualification, or popular approval, qualities considered highly desirable in the leaders of advanced technological societies. The lottery’s arationality keeps out both rational and irrational factors. But at times, this tradeoff might well be worthwhile. When it comes to selecting political leaders, one can do better than picking names out of the phonebook, but one can also do much worse.

    As I mentioned before, I think the arationality argument misses the point. Really, it is the representativity that is important, and in that sense the allotment procedure is very rational.

    But the second part of this paragraph is also problematic. The “we could do better but we could do worse” argument ignores that crucial fact that better or worse is a matter of opinion. (This, by the way is the flaw with Socrates’s argument about choosing a flutist or a pilot by lottery.) The role of sortition is indeed to allow a large group of people to form an informed and considered opinion about what to do or who to put in charge of various matters. It is only once such an opinion is formed that the claim that a particular choice is better or worse than another has a meaning. If, indeed, it is evident that a certain person or group of people should be put in charge of public policy (or should play the flute or pilot a ship) then this would be the decision of the allotted group.

    Like

  5. >As I mentioned before, I think the arationality argument misses the point. Really, it is the representativity that is important, and in that sense the allotment procedure is very rational.

    Exactly. And Dowland’s dismissal of representation as a “weak” use of the lot is purely because he pre-defines the “Lottery Principle” in terms of arationality. If, however the lottery is created for the rational purpose of obtaining a representative sample (but without knowing what the relevant sampling criteria are) then representativity is a far stronger use of the lot than the random selection of classroom monitors to oversee the existing institutions of electoral oligarchy.

    Like

  6. I do find it interesting that the two of you seem to be able to agree about absolutely nothing except that I am wrong. Not sure what that proves about my argument, but there you go.

    Yoram, I find your claim hard to understand. I think it boils down to something like 1) whatever the People decide in an informed way, they should have, 2) sortition gives us an answer to what the People would decide in an informed way, therefore 3) the People should have what their sortition-selected representatives decide. Is that the argument? If so, I guess I am not sure I buy either claim 1 or claim 2. Moreover, I think there are obvious ways to talk about what’s bad for the country (bank bailouts, etc.) without appeal to what the People would choose, either right now or under the right hypothetical circumstances.

    Like

  7. >I do find it interesting that the two of you seem to be able to agree about absolutely nothing except that I am wrong.

    Not so, Yoram and myself agree 100% that the most important and exciting potential of sortition is as a method of political representation. Where we differ is over the limits of its use — in my case I want to restrict it to acts that are open to statistical aggregation (ie determining the outcome of a debate via the secret vote), leaving the policy initiation and advocacy role for electoral and direct-democratic initiative. Yoram, by contrast, believes that sortition is amenable to these functions as well. This is because Yoram and I appear to be using the word “representation” in different ways. But we both agree that the use of sortition to appoint monitors to prop up the rotting carcass of electoral democracy is just papering over the cracks and is anything but a “strong” use of the lot.

    I’ll leave it to Yoram to defend his own arguments, but what you appear to be attacking is anything more than a minimalist notion of democracy as a way of appointing/removing political leaders. Many political theorists would indeed opt for such a model, but I’m surprised to see it defended on this forum. If democracy is not what the people would choose under the right hypothetical circumstances, then what is it? A mechanism to ensure the orderly circulation of political elites? Perhaps it would help if you were to clarify what your own conception of democratic decision making is.

    Like

  8. Keith, I was being a bit tongue in cheek with my remark. I realize that there is a lot of enthusiasm in all corners around this blog for sortition, but that enthusiasm seems to be accompanied by an enormous amount of disagreement regarding where we should use sortition and why.

    You seem to say two things, and I am unclear how they connect. First, you say I am attacking “a minimalist notion of democracy as a way of appointing/removing political leaders.” Then you say that I am incorrect to criticize the idea that “democracy is what the people would choose under the right hypothetical circumstances.” Could you explain how these two points connect? I don’t see any relation between them. I don’t remember saying anything about the minimalist notion of democracy you describe.

    Like

  9. Hi Peter,

    > I think it boils down to something like …

    I wouldn’t put things exactly as you put them. For example, I think that referring to “whatever the People decide in an informed way” is problematic since this assumes a hypothetical situation which is pretty close to a logical contradiction.

    But maybe we should start from the beginning, which is your last statement:

    > there are obvious ways to talk about what’s bad for the country (bank bailouts, etc.) without appeal to what the People would choose, either right now or under the right hypothetical circumstances.

    No such way is obvious to me. How would that work? What would be your standard for good or bad? Specifically, to pick up your example, how would you determine that bank bailouts are bad (which I gather is your opinion)?

    Like

  10. Sorry Peter, you were misled by my double negative (“anything more than . . .”). Given that you reject the notion of democracy as “what the people would choose under the right hypothetical circumstances”, this would suggest that you view democracy as a way for people to select their political leaders. But it would be better for you to tell us what your view is rather than leave it to others to speculate.

    Like

  11. Keith wrote:
    “…minimalist notion of democracy as a way of appointing/removing political leaders. Many political theorists would indeed opt for such a model, but I’m surprised to see it defended on this forum. ”

    While I agree that MERELY using sortition to aid in the selection of leaders is a pale democratic reform, I want to be clear that I DO think that in addition to having allotted bodies pass laws, (different) allotted bodies should also select chief executives…though these would be administrators subject to oversight by allotted bodies rather than “leaders.”

    Like

  12. Terry

    Agreed, but Yoram and my concern is over allotment as a system of democratic representation for the legislature — something which Peter appears to reject in his response to Yoram’s post.

    Like

  13. […] the face of such difficulties, Stone and his collaborator Oliver Dowlen propose (1, 2) to abandon the representativity justification for sortition. Instead they offer a different […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: