The Equality of Lotteries


Saunders B (2008) The Equality of Lotteries. Philosophy, 83 (3), pp. 359-372.;

Lotteries have long been used to resolve competing claims, yet their recent implementation to allocate school places in Brighton and Hove, England led to considerable public outcry. This article argues that, given appropriate selection is impossible when parties have equal claims, a lottery is preferable to an auction because it excludes unjust influences. Three forms of contractualism are discussed and the fairness of lotteries is traced to the fact that they give each person an equal chance, as a surrogate for their equal claim to the good. It is argued that this can be a reason to favour an artificially-constructed lottery to a 'natural' lottery where there is suspicion that the latter may be biased.

Philosophy: Volume 83, Issue 3

Publication date31/07/2008
PublisherCambridge University Press/ The Royal Institute of Philosophy
Publisher URL…ietyETOCSession=