As Aristotle (roughly) put it: if you want oligarchy, have elections; if you want democracy, use lotteries. In this talk, philosopher Alex Guerrero brings this idea into the 21st century, arguing that 6 deep pathologies of electoral representative democracy prevent us from having real democracy, that is from having the State work for all of us, rather than just the most powerful of us. He maintains that these problems with electoral representative democracy run deep, so that even politically unlikely reforms with respect to campaign finance, lobbying, gerrymandering, and so on, would not be enough to make a significant improvement. In our most recent presidential election, both Sanders supporters and Trump supporters shared this sentiment: our political system is broken, as it works for the wealthiest of Americans, but certainly not for all. In his talk, Guerrero offers a way forward, through what he calls “lottocratic” government. In this system, law is made by issue-specific legislatures, rather than generalist legislatures (like Congress), and the members of these issue-specific legislatures are chosen by lottery from the general citizenry. After introducing these systems of government, he will discuss some relevant historical examples of institutions of this kind, and discuss some of their possible advantages and disadvantages.
Please join us for this thought-provoking and possibly change-inducing discussion. It is the first in a planned series of discussions co-sponsored by the Gotham Philosophical Society and the CUNY Academy for the Humanities and Sciences, titled ‘Rethinking Political Society.’
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 7:15pm, Room 9206
CUNY Graduate Center, 365 5th Avenue (at 34th Street)
New York, New York 10016
Alexander Guerrero is a philosopher specializing in political, legal, and moral philosophy, and topics in epistemology that relate to those three areas. He attended Harvard College and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Philosophy. He completed his PhD in Philosophy from New York University and his JD from New York University School of Law. While a law student, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the New York University Law Review. Alex joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Philosophy in 2012, and has secondary appointments in the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy in the Perelman School of Medicine. His work has appeared in a number of leading philosophical and legal journals, including Philosophy and Public Affairs, Philosophical Studies, Ethics, Legal Theory, Public Affairs Quarterly, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Criminal Law and Philosophy, and Jurisprudence. He is currently working on a book-length project, The Lottocratic Alternative, in which he introduces the “lottocratic” system of government, and argues that we should use lotteries to choose our political officials, rather than elections.