[EM] Doesn't matter what preference means, Markus

Blake Cretney bcretney at postmark.net
Wed Jan 30 18:34:48 PST 2002


> Blake wrote to Mike (28 Jan 2002):
>> Having said all that, I'll get to how I interpret P&P. P&P talk about
>> ballots, and criteria and methods based on those ballots. By ballots I
>> could just as easily say preference orders. I don't think P&P intend to
> I reply:
> You could just as well say egg-salad sandwiches too. But when
> we say "I prefer chocolate to vanilla, we mean that I like chocolate
> better than vanilla. That's what preference means. If you want to
> call ballots preferences, than that must be stated, because that
> isn't what preference means, unless you say that that's what you're

But you must recognize there's a difference between saying "Mike prefers 
chocolate to vanilla" and saying that P&P will be considering a 
preference order in which chocolate is higher than vanilla.  

I think it is obvious what P&P mean, and I don't think they have to 
state the obvious.

>> propose a theory in which the preference orders are mental states, but
>> the method works on actual ballots, so the ballots must be "sincere",
>> whatever that might mean.
> I reply:
> "Whatever that might mean" would be whatever P&P defined it to mean,
> if they had defined it. Maybe, as Blake says, P&P are calling ballots
> "preferences". As I said, that's really sloppy unless they say
> that they're going to give preference that new meaning.

Let me politely recommend the policy of reading a whole email before 
responding.  First of all, this makes it easier to properly consider 
someone else's points.  Second, it avoids interjecting with 
misunderstandings that are cleared up before the end of the email.  I 
snipped out the next such interjection.

> Blake continued:
> For you,
>> preference order implies sincere preferences, and you recognize that a
>> real-world method can only work on cast votes. But for P&P, a method is
>> just a function from a hypothetical set of preference orders to a set of
>> winners.
> Ok, thanks for clarifying that. If an oracle knew the preferences,
> or if sincere or insincere preferences were recorded on a ballot,
> either of those would do for what P&P mean by preferences. I just
> meant that P&P should have been a lot clearer about that.

Perhaps they weren't writing with you in mind.

Blake Cretney

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