More Standards

Sun Oct 25 14:44:02 PST 1998

Mr. Cretney wrote-

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

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.

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.

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.

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.
D-  Neither A or B may be acceptable.  The votes may just be done on a lesser
of 2 evils basis.   The same may be said even if there is just one candidate
(as may be the case if a popular incumbent dies just before an election and
has only token opposition).  Thus, my repeated suggestion for a YES/NO vote on
each choice.
The last time I looked in my dictionary majority rule means more than half of
the voters.
Mr. Cretney wrote more-
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.
D- A choice cannot get both majority approval (YES) and majority disapproval
(NO) with a majority being defined above.

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list