[EM] Reply re: standards

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 28 21:27:33 PST 2002

I'd said:

>We don't defend standards dogmatically (though I shouldn't
>speak for you). We describe standards, and if someone likes them they
>do, and otherwise they don't. That's it. We can point to the popularity
>of a standard, and suggest that a less poplular standard won't win

Blake replied:

But what your saying is that you can't possibly rationally defend your

I reply:

That's right.

Blake continues:

In fact, I wonder what you think makes people like a
standard? Whim? Peer pressure?

I reply:

Yes, maybe sometimes. But I'd be surprised if those were the only
influences on what standard a person prefers.

Some people speak of symmetry as if it were a standard. I've heard
that from Saari, and from some margins advocates on this list. How to
explain that? No doubt symmetry has appeal. What more explanation is

You imply that it's surprising, and calls for explanation, that
different people have different standards. I suggest that what would
be surprising would be if everyone's standards were the same.

You believe that there's actually a genuine absolute best candidate,
independent of people's beliefs about that, and that it's possible for
a voting system to determine which candidate is most likely to be
that best candidate. What else influenced your standard? Reading Condorcet
on the subject of finding the probable bests candidate no doubt
influenced you. Maybe the allure of symmetry also influenced you.

Do I have to try to explain why you believe that there's a genuine objective
absolute best candidate? Obviously that belief of yours has great
influence on your standards, since your main standard is finding which
candidate is most likely to be that genuine objective absolute best.
I don't know why you believe that.

And I can only guess why the lesser-of-2-evils problem isn't important
to you. Maybe you're a loyal supporter of one of your country's 2
biggest political parties, and so the lesser-of-2-evils problem
doesn't matter to you. Maybe you believe that the concerns expressed
by voters are beneath you. Maybe you believe in an elite whose formulas
are more important than voters' concerns. And no, I'm not criticizing

This isn't intended as criticism of you. I'm trying to guess possible
reasons why your standards are different, as a way to try to answer
your more general question about why people have different standards.

A brief general answer would be: Because people come from different
political and social backgrounds. We're led to electoral reform because
of dissatisfactions with the current voting system--or maybe not all
of us are. Maybe some of us don't even approach electoral reform
from that general direction, but merely regard voting system reform
as a game. In any case, though, we arrive at voting system reform
coming from different places, and it would be surprising if we all
had the same standards.

People who notice other voters abandoning
their favorite in order to protect a lesser-evil, in order to keep
some greater-evil from winning, and who don't like the way society
is affected when people are afraid to express their favorite, and
when people feel compelled to top-rate someone they don't even like--
those people value the lesser-of-2-evils standard.

As I always say, you aren't wrong because your standards are different
from mine, but you're wrong if you believe that others' standards
are wrong because they differ from yours.

May your voting system proposal achieve great popularity and success
with people who want what you want from a voting system.

Mike Ossipoff

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