More Standards

Mike Ositoff ntk at
Sun Oct 25 14:28:24 PST 1998

> On Tue, 20 Oct 1998 21:02:32   Mike Ositoff wrote:
> >
> >Blake proposes a Marginal Majority Criterion, but, except for
> >the fact that any pairwise proposition can be called a
> >"majority", his criterion isn't about majority. It's about
> >margins. It should just be called "Margins Criterion".
> Maybe I should have called it the Margin of Majority Criterion

Or maybe better yet, leave the word "majority" out altogether.
As I said before, when _any_ pairwise proposition that wins
is called a "majority", the word loses its meaning & significance.
As I said, we all agree that, if it's avoidable, no pairwise
defeat should be disregarded. That's essentially the same as
the Condorcet Criterion. But when every candidate has such
a defeat (Blake would call it a "majority" defeat), then it
isn't possible to honor each of those defeats. Then it makes
senses to consider majority as the term is usually used.

By "Margin of Majority", Blake just means "margin of defeat". Same
thing. Just call it "margin".

> >
> >Though I've already told why "random fill" isn't a problem,
> >I'd like to add that in Margins, when nothing is known about
> >other voters, a voter can gain by random fill. 
> >
> >He can gain by random fill in Schulze(VA), but he can also
> >lose by it. So it isn't clear how that consideration is
> >supposed to distinguish between Margins & VA.

> Because random-fill works on average in VA, even if no information
> about how other voters voted is known.  And the average case is what

> motivates a rational voter.  I know you don't think this is an 
> important difference, but that isn't the same as saying there is 
> NO difference.

It isn't an absolute thing, just a probability matter of degree.
Random fill can work with Margins, and it can backfire with Schulze(VA).

In any case, you seem overly interested in shots in the dark. I've
explained why that "problem" isn't a problem for VA.

There are innumerable criteria one could apply, both old and
newly invented. Wouldn't it be better if, when, with a fixed
alternative-set, X wins with 1 set of voters, and separately
with another set of voters, X would win with both sets combined
in 1 election? Well it doesn't always, with any of the methods
proposed here, with the exception of Approval.

Wouldn't it be better if, with a fixed set of voters, if X
wins in a vote against all the other alternatives, it would
win in a vote against any subset of them? Common sense says
it certainly should. But it won't always, with any of the
methods proposed here, except Approval.

The rational person will choose the criteria that seem important,
because you can't meet every criterion that someone comes up
with. I, and most people who responded to our poll here, 
believe that it's important to not force extreme defensive
strategy, forced abandonment of one's favorite. Maybe you
don't consider that important. Fine, but most of us do.
Margins badly fails that standard, failing even the weak version
of the 1st Choice Criterion.

> >
> >As for finding the best candidate or the worst candidate,
> >I believe that Blake is chasing a rainbow when he speaks 
> >of finding the best candidate.  We can try to avoid specified
> >strategy problems, and majority rule violations, but it's
> >rather overambitious to speak of finding the best candidate.
> Of course, I don't think we can expect to find a method that finds
> the best candidate ALL the time.  After all, much of the time the
> voters themselves will be wrong.  However, I think our goal should
> be a method that finds the most likely best candidate based on the
> ballots.

Rainbow chasing. No one else agrees that's possible. Avoid thke
LO2E problem. Protect majority rule.

> For a simple example, if there are only two candidates A and B, and
> all we know is that 60 people vote for A, and 40 for B, then we have
> to conclude that the best guess for best candidate is A.  To me, this
> seems pretty clear.
> Of course, the conclusion here is the same as that from the principle
> of majority rule, but starting from a more basic premise.  Everybody
> would agree that we should be looking for the best candidate (where
> they agree that it is possible), but not everyone will agree with 
> majority rule.

You, and a few point-system advocates are the only ones here who
don't agree with majority rule.

> In more complicated examples, not everyone even agrees on what 
> majority rule means.  In fact, we all seem to have our own 
> definitions to fit whatever method we advocate.  And it is impossible
> to prove that anyone's definition is wrong.  People can define words
> any way they wish.

I can't prove your definition is wrong, but a dictionary can
prove that your definition is unique to you.

> Our arguments take on the character of scriptural debates, where
> people all agree that a particular phrase must be true, but
> disagree widely on what it means.  When I say that
> I support majority rule, I do so because I think that the
> majority will give the best guess for the best candidate, and
> my argument for majority rule frames my definition of it.  I
> would be interested to hear arguments for majority rule that
> do not derive it from the search for best candidate.

Ok. It's a voter's rights issue, an important procedural rights
issue. It's necessary, to avoid the strategy problems that result
and the chaos that ensues when a majority find it necessary
to drastically misrepresent their preferences, abandoning their
favorite, to get some result that they all want.

> So, I think that best guess for best candidate is in fact a 
> more realistic goal than a direct search for arbitrarily 
> defined majority rule.

More than 1/2 of the voters. Arbitrary? I don't know; but
universally accepted. I don't believe guesses are appropriate
goals for a voting system, and I don't believe that your goal
is at all realistic.

> And you can make strong arguments that certain methods do not
> find the best guess for best candidate, at least in some
> situations.  For example, methods that violate monotonicity.
> >l've replies several times to the arguments regarding
> >to reversal of rankings. I refer Blake to the archives.
> Perhaps even more obvious is the argument against methods that
> are reverse-inconsistent.  That is, consider a method that says 
> the  best candidate is candidate X for some ballots.  Now reverse
> the candidate order on all ballots, so they are now ordered to 
> determine the worst candidate.  If the worst candidate is found 
> to also be X, the method is reverse-inconsistent.  That is, it 
> can't possibly be right both ways because it contradicts itself.

As I just said, I refer you to the archives for my reply to that.
I've answered it so many times; must I repeat it forever?

> Of course, this isn't a strategy problem.  But we should be
> concerned with more than just strategy problems.  There is
> little benefit to a method that forces everyone to vote
> sincerely, if the method gives bad results even when they
> do so.

Let me explain something to you: A method that produces bad results
when someone votes sincerely forces them to vote insincerely.
I'm not interested in forceing sincere voting, but I'm interested
in not forcing insincere strategy, especially abandonment of
one's favorite. You apparently disagree. No problem.


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