[EM] Blake's interpretation vs Condorcet's words

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 2 02:10:07 PDT 2001

So much for Blake's claim that Condorcet didn't consider incomplete
rankings. We covered this some time ago, but Blake repeated his
refuted statement again.

>Blake Cretney wrote (1 Apr 2001):
> > I argued that since no one had come up with an example where Condorcet
> > had considered incomplete rankings, he hadn't.

The Condorcet translation that Markus quoted says:

>    However, it is not necessary for everyone to compare
>all the candidates or to form a complete list. A voter may
>for various reasons regard a certain number of candidates
>as equal to one another, either after considering their
>attributes or because he does not know the candidates and
>is therefore unable, or unwilling, to judge them.
>    This condition in no way restricts the voters' freedom,
>since it simply requires everyone to decide which candidates
>he wishes to choose between. The list of all those put
>forward in this way would then present each voter with the
>names of all the candidates between whom the other voters
>wanted the election to be conducted, and he would then
>have complete freedom to decide how he could share in this
>judgement: which candidates he wanted to rank in order of
>merit and which to reject entirely by placing them after
>all the others.
>    Any election method in which the votes given are
>incomplete will produce results which contradict the will
>which the majority would have had if complete votes had
>been collected.
>    The results of these incomplete votes will of course have
>some degree of probability of being correct, but it would be
>similar to that of a proposition which has been only half
>examined. In fact, we should support a probable proposition
>only when we have discovered the impossibility of
>incorporating new information, and as long as this
>impossibility lasts.
>    However, we would be just as far from fulfilling our aim
>if we forced each voter to express, not the complete vote
>which he actually forms, but a complete vote in an absolute
>sense; that is, if we forced him to establish an order of
>preference between all the candidates, including those he
>does not know. Clearly, he would then rank the latter at
>random and his vote could result in the election of a
>candidate who would not otherwise have had sufficient
>support. In the first case, we are neglecting judgements
>which should have been assessed, and in the second, we are
>assessing judgements which have not been given. In the first
>case, we are acting as if we had randomly excluded a certain
>number of voters, and in the second as if we were randomly
>giving some of them double the number of votes.
>    In theory, therefore an election procedure should be as
>follows: after having determined the list of acceptable
>candidates, each voter should express his complete will,
>whether of preference or indifference.
>    A table of majority judgements between the candidates
>taken two by two would then be formed and the result - the
>order of merit in which they are placed by the majority -
>extracted from it. If these judgements could not all exist
>together, then those with the smallest majority would be
>    This is exactly the same procedure as that followed by
>any individual who wants to make a considered choice by
>using a general, regular method which applies to all
>    Since there is only one way of obtaining a true decision,
>the procedures used by a deliberative assembly should be as
>close as possible to those used when an individual examines
>a question for himself.
>    This principle can have other important applications. In
>this case, it allows us to develop an election method which
>is reasonably natural and as perfect as the nature of things


The term "majority / majorite" (instead of the usually used
term "plurality / pluralite") is also used in the French
original of this paper.

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