[EM] compromise proposal number one: a most (but perhaps too) simple version

Jobst Heitzig heitzig-j at web.de
Tue Sep 7 15:01:56 PDT 2004

Dear James!

you wrote:
> Dear Jobst, This proposal reminds me a bit of a version of weighted
> pairwise which I proposed on June 19th, where people assign a value
> to the individual gaps rather than rating all the candidates on a
> single scale.
> The proposals are not identical, but they would be likely to have
> similar properties. They differ in that the June 19th version imposes
> a kind of second-order transitivity, and gives us a small scale
> rather than a binary expression of strength. But the effect would
> probably be similar. I have generally considered the primary version
> of weighted pairwise to be more interesting that the June 19th
> version, although I'm not totally down on the latter, and I'm not
> totally down on your proposal here.

I have read that proposal only now since I was in Persia then -- it
seems I always miss some important things :-)

Indeed, I like the June 19th version much better than the original one,
since, as you say, it essentially only gives the voter a means of
downweighting some of her/his preferences. In the original weighted
pairwise I still have the feeling that the strengths of preferences are
compared between different voters in a not allowed way (which feeling I
cannot describe more precisely though), but in this version I don't have
that feeling. I think most of my aversion against the idea of
intersubjectively comparable utilities has to do with such dangers as
e.g. assuming that an increase in income of 100$ for a rich person was
equally desirable for society as an increase in income of 50$ for two
poor persons. But when the "standard" (i.e., the maximal) strength of
the individual preferences is equal for all voters independently of the
number of expressed preferences, I think there are no such dangers.
Also, I guess that this version of weighted pairwise gives less
incentive to use the strengths for strategical purposes. (By the way, do
you really think we shouldn't try to positively give voters an incentive
to vote sincerely instead of just hoping for a stable equilibrium? I
think getting voters to vote sincerely has some worth in its own right
because elections have also the purpose of representing the opinions of
the voters which is then often used in political debates and decisions,
so this representation should be as accurate as possible, don't you think?)

Still, I'm unsure as to what we should answer when a voter asks how s/he
should decide whether a less important preference is strength 5 or 6.
So, we should next try to find an operational definition for these
strengths (and I fear the one you gave with additional fictitious
additional candidates will not work here since we are no longer adding
the strengths of preferences transitively but taking the maximum instead)!

Yours, Jobst

PS: You should give the June 19th version of weighted pairwise some nice
name :-)

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