The problem with "utility" (Re: [EM] Re: Election-methods Digest, Vol 15, Issue 1)

bql at bql at
Thu Sep 1 14:08:35 PDT 2005

On Thu, 1 Sep 2005, Rob Lanphier wrote:

> Warren,
> The problem with placing paramount importance on "utility" in voting
> methods is not that it doesn't exist, it's that there's no systematic,
> fair way of measuring utility.  In the highly charged atmosphere of
> high-stakes decision making, it's hard to tell the real Hitler from
> someone who is "just like Hitler" as far as someone else is concerned.
> Comparisons to Hitler are so common, it's cliche.
> Range voting methods tend to give strategic advantage to those that are
> prone to hyperbole, i.e. those people that declare "candidates A, B, and
> C are PERFECT, while candidates D and E MIGHT AS WELL BE HITLER".  Your
> strategic incentive will be to give the absolute highest rank to those
> that you approve, and the absolute lowest rank to those that you don't.
> Not everyone will do that; just the people who deeply understand the
> system and those that are prone to hyperbole.
> I'd just as soon not favor a system that favors those prone to
> hyperbole.  That would do real damage to humanity.
> Rob

I think this post deserves some kind of award for "Best use of 'Hitler' in 
a serious argument".

Brian Olson

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