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Lots of luck: contextualizing sortition in approaches to chance
Manchester Workshops in Political Theory (2008)
  • Mindy Peden, John Carroll University

Explores the ways in which luck and chance have been understood by political theorists. Contemporary political thinkers understand luck to describe those situations in which the individual subject has no control. Chance, however, has been understood in a variety of ways over time, beginning with Aristotle suggesting that chance is the “coincidental intersection of two separate causes.” Enlightenment thinkers argue, however, from a more deterministic perspective suggesting that chance is an epistemological category resulting from a deficit of human knowledge. In other words, the world is deterministic and certain even if not predictable by humans. That the world is a rational, knowable place subject to physical laws and properties is the premise of much of contemporary thought. The emphasis on rationality is then translated to the social and political world. The conceptual distinction between what humans can control versus what they cannot is “the battlegrounds over the meaning of democracy, freedom, and selfhood.” The idea of self governance challenges the deterministic views espoused by many political thinkers challenging us to reconsider the tenets of liberal theory. Chance and luck play a more significant role in our lives than we seem to want to think.

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Mindy Peden. "Lots of luck: contextualizing sortition in approaches to chance" Manchester Workshops in Political Theory (2008)
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