[EM] Voting methods & utility

David Catchpole s349436 at student.uq.edu.au
Thu Nov 9 16:30:10 PST 2000

On Fri, 10 Nov 2000, LAYTON Craig wrote:

> David,
> 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
> 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.
> >
> >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?

I don't. In fact it's one (just one!) of the weaknesses of game
theory. An example are the computer scripts that get used in game
simulations. Many of them don't _optimise_ the utilities their given but
approximate an optimisation. Can we argue that there's some
"procedural" or deistic set of utilities behind this behaviour? Did the
programmers, as creators, present the game with a player that entailed
values that related to its own creation? It's freaky ****. But if it's
accepted that at least some kind of approximate rational optimisation

> >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

I guess I made a wrong choice of "comfort" but it was meant to imply all
that- how about just plain "happiness"?

> 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

"I only said we'd make it across"
				-"Road Trip"

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