Academic Criteria & Condorcet's Method

Mike Ossipoff dfb at
Mon Apr 15 05:41:36 PDT 1996

The criticisms against Condorcet's method are mostly the criticisms about
how plain Condorcet doesn't meet the academic candidate-counting criteria.

Of course Smith//Condorcet meets those criteria, & every objective
criterion that I've heard of. It will be interesting to hear what
desparate arguments anti-reform types will come up with to criticize

And Demorep demonstrated how natural a Condorcet Loser Criterion rule
fits into a set of Condorcet's method rules--right after where it says
that any alternative that beats each of the others is elected, it could
say that any alternative beaten by each of the others is disqualified.


But this message will just be about plain Condorcet & the criticisms
against it, based on the academic candidate-counting criteria.

Actually, this message will just discuss the Condorcet Loser Criterion,
and the other candidate-counting criteria will be discussed in subsequent
messages, each having a title based on the criterion that it discusses.
For example, the next message from me about these criteria will be
entitled "The Smith Criterion & Condorcet's method". It will probably
be quite short, since this letter will cover what there is to be
said about the Smith Criterion, which is really like a milder version
of the Condorcet Loser Crierion--milder in the sense that violating it
is a less dramatic violation. Of course, in another sense, it's a stronger
criterion, since any method meeting it automatically meets Condorcet Loser,
and since Smith demands more than Condorcet Loser does.


Though I don't object to complying with the Condorcet Loser Criterion,
either by a Condorcet Loser Criterion rule, or by a Smith Criterion rule,
or a Smith set rule, I don't consider it important.

I've talked about the widely-held standards met only by Condorcet's
method. Compared to that, the CL Criterion is just cosmetic--a rule
to avoid an embarrassment in a hopeless bottom-end situation where
there's no right answer anyway, and where, if plain Condorcet picks the
CL, it's because everything other than the CL has more people voting 
for something else against it than the CL does. Does that sound like
a situation where the result matters, or a situation where there's
a compelling case for not picking, as winner, the CL? Can anyone who
uses the CL Criterion against plain Condorcet seriously claim that that's

When plain Condorcet picks as winner the CL, that's a peculiarly, 
suspiciously, un-disliked Condorcet Loser. I mean, if it's a really
unpopular alternative, then how come it has the fewest voters saying
that a particular other alternative is better than it?? Bruce's
bad-examples, and the text that accompanies them seem to be saying
that the CL that plain Condorcet could pick is a really bad alternative.
So bad that it has fewest people saying something else is better?

Such bad-examples are contrived, and make no sense, because they
show you a self-contradictory kind of voting, an electorate that
contradicts itself, and they give no explanation for how or why
that would happen.


The CL Criterion is unimportant for at least 3 reasons:

1. It's nothing but a rule to avoid embarrassment in a hopeless
bottom-end situation where there's no satisfactory outcome anyway,
& the result doesn't really matter. And if everything other than
the CL has a bigger vote against it than the CL does, then it matters
even less.

2. How bad can a CL be if it has fewest people saying that something
else is better?

3. The plain Condorcet CL bad-examples are contrived self-contradictory
voting examples, where voters are saying 2 contradictory things, and
for which the author of the bad-examples has given no explanation.


More to follow about other academic criteria.




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