AUP graduation ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

Demos 21

Prof. Annabelle Lever (Sciences Po Paris): Democracy in Selection

Hybrid Event: Virtual & Q-609
Wednesday, December 1, 2021 - 17:00 to 18:30

Should we replace elections with lotteries?  Bernard Manin’s famous book on representative government first taught many of us that the Greeks thought of elections as an aristocratic, not a democratic, way to select people for political power and authority, by comparison with lotteries, where everyone has an equal chance to be selected. (Manin 1997) Until recently, however, the idea that a commitment to democracy requires replacing elections with lotteries, in whole or in part, generated little interest amongst political philosophers.  That has now changed. (Abizadeh 2020)  ( A. Guerrero 2014) (A. Guerrero 2021b; 2021a) (Landemore 2020)  (Owen and Smith 2018) (P.-É. Vandamme et al. 2018). Hence, this paper asks whether lotteries are more democratic than elections and whether, for that reason, we should use them to supplement or replace elections?
The recent literature on democracy contains several criticisms of lotteries as political selection devices.  Most recently Landa and Pevnick and Umbers object that they will not achieve the instrumental improvements in government for which they are sought, (Landa and Pevnick 2021) (Umbers 2021) while Ottonelli and Ceva, and Lafont deny that lottocratic critiques of elections reflect an adequate understanding of democratic representation, (Ceva and Ottonelli 2021; Lafont 2020) and Umbers argues that lottocracy is at odds with principles of distributive justice and social equality (Umbers 2021, 316–19) My paper, by contrast, focuses on the idea that democracy requires an equal chance to be selected for political office. That claim is intuitively plausible and, if successful, would provide compelling, though not decisive, evidence that lotteries are democratic in ways that elections are not.  



Annabelle Lever is professeur des universités at SciencesPo, and a permanent associate at CEVIPOF. She is co-editor of the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (CRISPP); co-editor of the Routledge Handbook on Ethics and Public Policy (2018), and of Ideas that Matter: Justice, Democracy, Rights (OUP 2018); she has also edited New Frontiers in Intellectual Property (OUP 2012). She is the author of On Privacy (Routledge 2011) and of A Democratic Conception of Privacy (2014), as well as numerous articles and book chapters on race and racial profiling; sexual equality and rights; democracy and judicial review; compulsory voting, the secret ballot and the ethics of voting. 




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