Perspectives on the Fairness of Lotteries

Res Publica 22 (2):209-224 (2016)
Jan-Willem Burgers
Australian National University
When there are equally strong claimants for a scarce good, lotteries are often argued to be a fair method of allocation. This paper reproduces four of the views on the fairness of lotteries that have been presented in the literature: the distributive view; the preference view; the actual consent view; and the expressive view. It argues that these four views cannot offer plausible explanations for the fairness of lotteries. The distributive view is argued to be inadequate because, even though receiving expectations to a good is of value to the participants, this value cannot plausibly make a contribution to the satisfaction of a participant’s claim. Both the preference and actual consent views are argued to be implausible because they lead to accepting procedures as legitimate that fail to correspond with what a claim is. Finally, it is contended that the expressive view identifies a value that is relevant to respecting equal claimants, but that cannot plausibly be related to a procedure’s fairness. The paper concludes by maintaining that an equal treatment view can accept all the valid insights from these four views without needing to accept their untenable implications.
Keywords Fairness  Equal treatment  Claims  Lotteries
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DOI 10.1007/s11158-014-9265-7
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References found in this work BETA

What is Egalitrianism?Samuel Scheffler - 2003 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 (1):5-39.
The Expressive Function of Punishment.Joel Feinberg - 1965 - The Monist 49 (3):397-423.

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