[Election-Methods] Election-Methods Digest, Vol 42, Issue 72

Juho juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Dec 31 05:30:31 PST 2007

On Dec 31, 2007, at 13:53 , CLAY SHENTRUP wrote:

>> One of the Democrats considers changing from approval to ratings  
>> style:
>> - overall ("absolute"/"idealistic") social utility could go up or
>> down or stay the same (depending on which party is "right")
>> - personal utility would go down
> well, no.  the average voter's personal utility is the social utility
> divided by the number of voters.  so a greater social utility means
> the average voter has a greater personal utility.

Greater social utility means greater average social utility per voter  
but that does not mean greater average _personal_ utility nor that  
this voter would achieve better personal utility.

(That voter's personal utility might be in conflict with the overall  
social utility. And even if that person would aim at or think that he  
is maximizing overall social utility it would be based only on what  
he considers to be best for the society, not what citizens feel in  
average or what is the "true" best social utility.)

>> - overall utility as this voter sees it would go down if this voter
>> wants to improve social utility
> i don't buy that argument.  i think a voter increases social utility
> more by voting honestly (letting others have their way more than if he
> had voted approval-style) more than by strategically voting
> altruistically for the candidates he thinks will make other voters
> happy.  mainly just because the former cedes power to the other voters
> based on what they actually expressed on their ballots, whereas the
> latter relies on the altruistic voters' best guess as to what other
> voters want.  i'm not sure whether there's a way to concretely address
> this question however, so it remains speculative as far as i can tell.

Note my words "as this voter sees it". I think these words should  
make the statement true also to you. My first bullet point addressed  
the target of improving the "true" social utility.

I did not make any difference between cases "voting honestly" and  
"make other voters happy". I classified them just as different ways  
of forming one's own opinion on what one considers to be the best  
thing to do (=do I trust more on my own thinking or on what I hear  
others say).

This bullet point referred e.g. to you when you think that Range  
would be the best method for the humankind and would vote that method  
(is asked) just to make the world a better place for all of us. Some  
others could vote e.g. for Condorcet and they would be just as sincere.

(I wonder if you would vote Range=90, Condorcet=30, Plurality=10 or  
Range=100, Condorcet=20, Plurality=0 or Range=100, Condorcet=0,  

> i think the best we can do is look at warren's social utility figures,
> which show a large benefit for range over approval.
>> If all would vote in (non-normalized) ratings style the (average
>> personal) social utility could be better, but for individual voters'
>> decisions on how to vote (or for groups) it doesn't make much sense
>> to switch to ratings style.
> i didn't say that it makes sense for an individual voter to use
> ratings.  it makes sense for him to want his society to use ratings,
> but for him to vote approval-style.

Having the approach "all others please vote sincerely so that I can  
then vote strategically and have more weight" doesn't make Range a  
very nice method.

> and we, as benevolent deities, would want our created societies to use
> range voting instead of approval, as it would increase the average
> voter satisfaction.

Yes, in many situations Range would indeed provide good results. The  
problem is that in competitive situations it may not do so. (Full  
degradation to pure Approval gives probably better results than  
partial degradation.) Different elections have also different needs  
=> maximizing the average utility is not always what we want.

>> People also tend to have their own understanding on what is best for
>> the society
> i think that's a very good point.  i tend to think ron paul would make
> a lot of people better off who strongly disapprove of him.  i believe
> that if they understood economics and foreign policy better, they'd
> understand why his policy would actually be beneficial to them in the
> long run.  i talk to people all the time who say they support people
> like giuliani and clinton, and are blissfully unaware of their
> connections to evil corporations, and their repugnant views on freedom
> (giuliani says freedom is about authority, and clinton voted for the
> flag desecration amendment).
> but one thing i notice is that the more politically savvy people
> support candidates other than the front-runners.  so here's an
> interesting thing to consider.  do educated people, who are more
> likely to know more about world affairs, tend to have their more
> educated voices strengthened when using a voting method that is more
> complex to game?  i know it sounds elitist, but it's a legitimate
> question.

I'd hope this to be true, or at least the more probable case.  
Unfortunately there are also educated and clever people that use  
their talent to serve their selfish needs. One approach is to hope  
that the society continuously grows (from the laws of jungle) in that  
direction (and that all people will learn from the best innovators/ 
leaders in this respect).

>> What if we look at Condorcet at the same level of recommending a
>> strategy that works well in most cases. The recommended strategy
>> could be: "list the candidates in the order of preference". That is
>> quite simple and understandable and works in most situations for the
>> benefit of the voter.
> that's not the strategy.  the gist of the strategy is to start with
> that ordering, then bury your favorite front-runner's strongest
> opponents.

Do you say that in Condorcet elections the best strategy for A  
supporters would be to vote A>X>Y>Z>B if they believe that A is the  
strongest candidate and B is the second strongest candidate?

>> So, is Condorcet strategy more straight forward than Approval
>> strategy? Approval strategy (e.g. "vote one of the frontrunners and
>> candidates that are better") requires the voters to estimate the
>> opinions of other voters while the described Condorcet strategy does
>> not.
> that's because you described honest condorcet voting and strategic
> approval voting.  apples and oranges.  you could rectify that by going
> back and either describing the burial aspect of condorcet, or by
> describing the approval voting strategy as "vote for every candidate
> you like more than average", which requires no knowledge of the
> opinions of others voters.
> c'mon juho...you know better than this.

I just picked two strategies that have been often recommended and  
that are simple. Similar comparisons can be done between any other  
strategies you want to pick. The idea was thus to pick some  
strategies that are known to be about equally good and reliable to  
the voters and then see which one of them is the easiest to  
understand and apply. Many Condorcet strategies are not easy to  
understand and apply ((many of them are not very efficient and safe  
either)) and are therefore not good candidates for this comparison.


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