Varieties of Indeterminacy

By Peter Stone.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A decision-maker faces indeterminacy whenever she has multiple options available to her and no reasons adequate for distinguishing between them. In effect, there is “tie.” Because she has no reasons for selecting one option over others, there is a sense in which she cannot go wrong in making her decision. But this does not mean that she may break any tie any way she wishes. This is because there are different types of indeterminacy. For some types, it does not matter how the indeterminacy gets resolved; for others, the tiebreaking method makes a difference. Many cases of indeterminacy, for example, require resort to a lottery in order to be resolved properly. Others can be satisfactorily resolved via the brute act of “picking.” Therefore, an agent concerned with reasoned decision-making must remember that her work is not necessarily done when the reasons for decision-making have run out. There is still a choice to be made regarding methods of indeterminacy resolution.

Keywords: Indeterminacy, Lotteries, Tiebreaking, Rationality, Justice

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 7, pp.107-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 743.116KB).

Dr. Peter Stone

Faculty Fellow, Center for Ethics and Public Affairs, Trinity College, New Orleans, Ireland

Peter Stone received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Rochester in 2000. He taught political theory at Stanford University for seven years before becoming Faculty Fellow at Tulane University’s Center for Ethics and Public Affairs. In September 2011, he took up a position as Ussher Lecturer of Political Science at Trinity College Dublin. He is the author of The Luck of the Draw: The Role of Lotteries in Decision Making (Oxford University Press, 2011) and the editor of Lotteries in Public Life: A Reader (Imprint Academic, 2011). He has also published articles in such journals as the Journal of Political Philosophy, the Journal of Theoretical Politics, Political Theory, Rationality and Society, and Social Theory and Practice. His research concerns the scope and limits of human reason, and the implications of these limits for our understanding of justice, democracy, and rationality.

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