# Standards vs. Criteria (was Re: Reply on EM to Mike's Re

Mike Ossipoff dfb at bbs.cruzio.com
Sat Apr 13 05:51:44 PDT 1996

```That's true, that people make important practical decisions all the
time without rigorous mathematical proof. Life & mathematics are different
in that respect. Electoral reform is part of life.

In fact, critera are a rather artifical approach. Instead of saying
"It's better if a method is better at ...", or "We'd all like it if
a method could do well at...", a criterion says "A method _must"
comply with....". No, the 1st approach is more natural, & a more
accurate statement of what we want.

Criteria imply an illusory notion of objectivity, but really
they're doubly subjective, because not only is the standard on
which a criterion based a subjective choice (how important is what
the criterion measures?), but the criterion's cut-off point for what
it says is permissible is another subjective choice.

Voting-system reform is not mathematics.

Height is a standard for evaluating basketball players. If Joe is
taller than Moe, then, by the height standard, Joe is a better choice
for a basketball team than Moe. We can say that without defining
a yes/no test, a criterion. In fact a yes/no test wouldn't give us
as useful information for comparing two basketabll players, since they
might both pass or fail it, just as all of the proposed voting systems
fail Arrow's unreasonable criteria, and _lots_ of methods meet the
academic candidate-counting critera (whether those criteria--with the
exception of the Condorcet criterion--need to be met is another
issue [I say they don't]).

So yes, criteria certainly aren't enough for comparing single-winner
methods.

There are things that we know we want from voting systems. As I said,
out initial whole reason for wanting a better single-winner method
is to get rid of the lesser-of-2-evils problem, the problem which
progressive voters point to as the reason why they don't dare vote
sincerely, and why, without better voting systems, their real wishes
can never be measured.

The lesser-of-2-evils standard, and the nearly synnonymous defensive
strategy standard, are things that are so well-known to voters &
electoral reformers that they hardly need formal definition. But
they've been defined on this list too.

Mike Ossipoff

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