[EM] Voting methods & utility

LAYTON Craig Craig.LAYTON at add.nsw.gov.au
Mon Nov 6 21:40:16 PST 2000

-----Original Message-----
From: David Catchpole [mailto:s349436 at student.uq.edu.au]
Sent: Tuesday, 7 November 2000 16:02
To: 'election-methods-list at eskimo.com'
Subject: RE: [EM] Voting methods & utility

>If we're to express any meaningful concept of utility we have to do it on
>an individual basis.

If that were true, there would never be any basis for measuring any action
(political or otherwise) against any other aside from self interest.  While
this is actually a very strong argument, I doubt if you believe it, nor most
people reading this.  I agree that that is the approach when you are
modeling, but I wouldn't say that expressing utility on an individual basis
is meaningful at all.

>An actor with utilities from three respective outcomes (no
>others can occur)-
>will have exactly the same response if his utilities are-

In order for this to be the case, you must assume the following; the actors
preferences correspond to utility outcomes (often not the case); the actor
has omnipotent control over the outcomes by virtue of his own actions (never
true); all of the possible actions require no effort whatsoever (also never
true).  I understand your point, but it is still not an approach I endorse.

>When one talks about utility, one's not referring to utilitarianism etc.

You cannot talk of utility unless you support its pursuit and you cannot
support its pursuit unless you are a utilitarian.

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