[EM] basic fairness question
fredgohlke at verizon.net
Sat Apr 16 12:25:56 PDT 2011
Good Afternoon, Owen
re: "The problem I am facing is a difference in name recognition
between Groups A and D. Group C has the distinction of
having overlapped with everybody, and having spanned as much
time in the fellowship as both Groups B and D. So candidates
from Group C are known best, and Group B is known by
everyone, too. Group A would seem to be at the worst
disadvantage, since members of their group may have formed
opinions of group D simply by virtue of having paid
attention to the fellowship after their own graduation, and
this is implausible in the reverse."
This statement of the problem suggests you want to be sure every member
has an equal opportunity to be elected, When you refer to 'name
recognition', you seem to be referring to the qualities the names
represent, in the sense of each person's perceived fitness for election.
If so, fairness --- and good sense --- dictates that each member have
an opportunity to present their 'name' in a way that generates a
positive perception of themselves. Stated another way, each member
needs a chance to persuade their peers they have the qualities deemed
desirable for election.
When persuasion occurs between two people, it takes place as a dialogue
with one person attempting to persuade the other. In such events, both
parties are free to share in the process. The person to be persuaded
can question the persuader as to specific points and present alternative
points about the topic under discussion. Under such circumstances, it
is possible that the persuader will become the persuaded.
When persuasion involves multiple people, as in campaign situations,
there is a greater tendency for it to occur as a monologue. The
transition from dialogue to monologue accelerates as the number of
people to be persuaded increases. The larger the number of people, the
less free some are to participate. They have fewer opportunities and
are less inclined to question points or offer alternatives. The
campaigners dominate the discussion and the viewpoints of the less
assertive members are suppressed. In such cases, campaigners are less
likely to be persuaded of the wisdom of an alternative view, because
that view will neither be expressed nor discussed.
To ensure fairness, and to accomplish a broad expression of views, an
electoral process that encourages dialogue is preferable to one that
relies on a monologue. Having fewer people in the "session of
persuasion" encourages even the most reticent members to participate.
The optimum group size to encourage active involvement by all
participants when a decision must be made is three, and that can be
easily implemented in the circumstances you describe.
To illustrate, we'll use numbers and upper and lowercase letters to
represent the 45 individuals, like this:
|<--GroupA-->| |<-GroupB->| |GroupC| |<-GroupD-->|
ABCDEFGHIJKLMN OPQRSTUVWXYZ 123456 abcdefghijklm
and sort the members into 15 groups of 3 members each. This will
produce 15 triads, something like this:
hUY VI5 lZN AEM d4H 13K eGF PSj cgJ XD2 CIR kmT QWa 6fb OLB
The leftmost triad has one member from Group D and two members from
Group B. The next triad has one member from Group B, one from Group A,
and one from Group C. The rest are similarly configured.
Give the triad members a period of time to become acquainted with each
other and determine which of the three they believe most qualified for a
seat. Then let them choose the individual they prefer. We will use
random choices to simulate the selection process ...
Y 5 Z M H 1 G P g D C k W b L
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
hUY VI5 lZN AEM d4H 13K eGF PSj cgJ XD2 CIR kmT QWa 6fb OLB
... but in real life, the choices will reflect the decisions of the
triad members. This method ensures that all members ...
* have an opportunity to persuade their peers they have the
qualities needed for election
* are able to examine their peers and make informed decisions
about them instead of relying on whatever perceptions they have
been able to glean in an informal atmosphere.
Perceptions vary; they are influenced by a multitude of factors. It is
possible the most fit individual will inspire an adverse perception
because of physical features, manner of speech, or other inconsequential
peculiarities. The best way to discern a person's qualities is through
face-to-face interaction, as described here.
This description happens to work naturally because the 15 people elected
are exactly one-third of the 45 graduates. In other circumstances, that
will not be the case. There are simple rules for handling the
irregularities that occur in different settings. I can describe them,
if you wish.
This concept is a change from current electoral practice and the various
attempts to achieve fairness through mathematics. Instead, it replaces
campaigning with critical evaluation. Several thoughtful people have
recognized the need for such a change:
* John Dewey
The old saying that the cure for the ills of democracy is more
democracy is not apt if it means that the evils may be remedied
by introducing more machinery of the same kind as that which
already exists, or by refining and perfecting that machinery.
* Jane Junn
We must ask whether citizens are being presented with adequate
resources to act, and how we might re-envision the incentives
for political engagement to be more inclusive of all citizens.
* Alasdair MacIntyre
Human beings, as the kind of creatures we are, need the
internal goods/goods of excellence that can only be acquired
through participation in politics if we are to flourish.
Therefore, everyone must be allowed to have access to the
The described method ensures that the effect of extraneous matters, such
as station in life, ideology, wealth and popularity is reduced. Every
member has an equal opportunity to influence the election. The success
of one's desire for election and the extent of one's influence on their
peers depends solely on each member's own qualities.
I hope you find this material of some value,
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