The Self-Enforcing Lottery


There are many conceivable circumstances in which some people have to be sacrificed in order to give others a chance to survive. The fair and rational method of selection is a lottery with equal chances. But why should losers comply, when they have nothing to lose in a war of all against all? A novel solution to this Compliance Problem is proposed. The lottery must be made self-enforcing by making the lots themselves the means of enforcement of the outcome. This way no external authority is needed to make the losers’ compliance rational both ex ante and ex post. A fairly realistic concrete scenario is sketched to show that the solution could be made to work in practice, particularly since making it work is in everyone’s enlightened self-interest in the circumstances.

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Antti Kauppinen
University of Helsinki


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