[EM] Voting methods & utility

LAYTON Craig Craig.LAYTON at add.nsw.gov.au
Thu Nov 9 16:13:55 PST 2000


I'll accept most of your arguments - we are approaching this in a rather
different fashion.

> > In order for this to be the case, you must assume the following; the
> > preferences correspond to utility outcomes (often not the case); the
> > has omnipotent control over the outcomes by virtue of his own actions
> > true); all of the possible actions require no effort whatsoever (also
> > true).  I understand your point, but it is still not an approach I
>No, none of these are assumed. In fact, they're all rejected. In game
>theory, actors have a limited set of available inputs (not omnipotent
>control!) that they use to produce favourable outcomes. Voting is a
>perfect example of how if they are asked to express their true
>preferences, it might not pay to be truthful. Also, the difficulty
>entailed in making a choice is bundled in the value of the outcome.

The problem with game theory is that it *always* assumes that actors act to
maximise their own utility (this what I meant by 'actors preferences
correspond to utility outcomes').  How can you say that this is not an
assumption here?

>That's certainly not true! I am a utilitarian but the word has a sense
>that is separate from concepts of utility. A utilitarian believes that the
>ideal of a social order is human comfort. But how do we dole out human
>comfort? Again, there is no universal intangible available. A utilitarian
>has to make decisions that overcome any notion of that intangible.

I don't agree - a utilitarian is one who holds that the ethical basis for
human society should be/is one which is based on the maximisation of
utility.  Utility can be defined as human comfort, but there are many other
definitions, informed preference satisfaction, preference satisfaction,
pleasure (hedonistic utilitarianism), happiness (eudaemonistic
utilitarianism) etc.  I think that the best definition is closest to
informed preference satisfaction, but it is not so simple.  I won't go on,
because I'm sure that the list members don't want to read about this (you
may mail me if you want to discuss further).  

I'll conceed that utility may be an acceptable game theory term and although
I might not like it, it could be appropriate for use.  It is but another
term which is slowly becomming unusable due to the proliferation of
technical and commonplace definitions for it.

Craig Layton

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