Problem

Arbitrariness


Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Caprice
Nature:

Arbitrariness is the quality of being "determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle".

Arbitrary decisions are not necessarily the same as random decisions. For example, during the 1973 oil crisis, Americans were allowed to purchase gasoline only on odd-numbered days if their license plate was odd, and on even-numbered days if their license plate was even. The system was well-defined and not random in its restrictions; however, since license plate numbers are completely unrelated to a person's fitness to purchase gasoline, it was still an arbitrary division of people. Similarly, schoolchildren are often organized by their surname in alphabetical order, a non-random yet still arbitrary method, at least in cases where surnames are irrelevant.

Claim:
You can't guard against the arbitrary (Borkowski's law).
Related Problems:
Internment without trial
Aggravated By:
Unwritten rules
Strategies:
Being capricious
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
21.02.1997 – 00:00 CET