[Election-Methods] RE : pizza and consensus

Kevin Venzke stepjak at yahoo.fr
Fri Dec 28 09:16:15 PST 2007

Hi Jonathan,

--- Jonathan Lundell <jlundell at pobox.com> a écrit :
> With the pizza example surfacing again (and again and again...), it  
> struck me that what bothers me about this example is that, in real  
> life, deciding on a pizza is one of the few places where just about  
> everybody would use informal consensus.

What concerns me about a pizza-selection scenario is that, assuming the
participants have some concern for what the other people want, the process
of participants discovering which options they may want to vote for seems
to be conflated with the process of voting. I don't find this very similar
to a public election.

> (For an introduction to formal consensus: http://www.consensus.net/)
> I've come over the years to the regretful conclusion that formal  
> consensus is not workable for most organizations, at least not unless  
> some fairly stringent preconditions are met (some are described by  
> Butler at the site above; they include fairly explicit agreement on  
> group goals, along with a lot of time an patience).

I skimmed the pdf available there. I wonder if it has any suggestions as to
what to do about a member who is willing to drive the organization into the
ground rather than yielding on a certain issue.

> But for pizza decisions, consensus rules. In particular, we try to  
> accommodate singleton minorities with strong negative preferences  
> ("concerns" in consensus-speak): anchovy-haters, the allergy-ridden.  
> It doesn't matter that sausage and pepperoni is the Condorcet or  
> majority winner if there's a vegetarian in the group; we'll find some  
> consensus choice (fresh tomatoes and pesto, anyone?), given a little  
> time, good will, and discussion.

My claim is that if this were performed as a public election, sausage and
pepperoni would probably not be the Condorcet winner, if the meat-lovers
realize there are vegetarians and do not hate them.

There's not really any understanding that in elections you are intended to
vote for the option which puts the most goodies in your own pockets.

Kevin Venzke

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