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Random JusticeOn Lotteries and Legal Decision-Making$
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Neil Duxbury

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268253

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268253.001.0001

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Dicing with Justice

Dicing with Justice

(p.85) 4 Dicing with Justice
Random Justice

Neil Duxbury

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the principal drawbacks which can attach to decision-making by lot. While the disadvantages of deciding by lot are numerous, they can be categorized in terms of four themes: lotteries are blind, are constructed, create uncertainty, and eschew reason. Although the principal disadvantages of randomization provide the framework for discussion, the lottery decision is not presented in a wholly, or even in a particularly, unfavourable light. Just as the advantages of randomized social decision-making tend to be subject to qualification, an examination of the disadvantages of such decision-making often enables us to appreciate more fully the favourable attributes of lotteries. The main argument is that the lottery may provide valuable insights into the nature of, and our assumptions concerning, legal decision-making precisely because we generally consider the notion of a randomized legal decision to be invidious. Non-weighted lottery decisions may offend against commonplace conceptions of justice and adversely affect people's incentives. This chapter also discusses the use of lotteries in child custody adjudication and procedural justice.

Keywords:   lotteries, uncertainty, reason, randomization, legal decision-making, non-weighted lottery decisions, procedural justice, child custody, adjudication

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