[EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.

David L Wetzell wetzelld at gmail.com
Fri Feb 10 06:55:19 PST 2012

On Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 2:10 PM, <
election-methods-request at lists.electorama.com> wrote:

> Send Election-Methods mailing list submissions to
>        election-methods at lists.electorama.com
> To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
> http://lists.electorama.com/listinfo.cgi/election-methods-electorama.com
> or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to
>        election-methods-request at lists.electorama.com
> You can reach the person managing the list at
>        election-methods-owner at lists.electorama.com
> When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
> than "Re: Contents of Election-Methods digest..."
> Today's Topics:
>   1. Re: Utilitarianism and Perfectionism. (Juho Laatu)
>   2. Re: Utilitarianism and Perfectionism. (Juho Laatu)
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Juho Laatu <juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk>
> To: EM list <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
> Cc:
> Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 22:07:07 +0200
> Subject: Re: [EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.
> On 9.2.2012, at 17.21, David L Wetzell wrote:
>  ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>> From: Juho Laatu <juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk>
>> To: EM list <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
>> Cc:
>> Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 22:29:02 +0200
>> Subject: Re: [EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.
>> On 8.2.2012, at 16.18, David L Wetzell wrote:
>> ...
>> dlw:At any rate, this is why I've argued that ascertaining the best
>> single-winner election rule is nowhere near as important as pitching the
>> importance of mixing the use of single-winner and multi-winner election
>> rules, with the latter replacing the former more so in "more local"
>> elections that are not competitive often in single-winner elections.
>> JL:I think I agree when I say that the first decision (in the USA) is
>> whether to make the current two-party system work better or whether to aim
>> at a multi-party system.
> dlw: I think the power of $peech in the US has made that choice for us.
> In every system there are many entities that try to defend the status quo
> and their current good position in it.

dlw:Successful electoral reforms have tended to find a middle way between
their ideals and accommodation of the status q uo...

>  But I'd argue that to make our two-party system work better, we need to
> provide a constructive role for 3rd parties in it.  This wd be accomplished
> by the use of 3-seat LR Hare in state reps elections.  If the Hare quota is
> used in the "more local" election and the Droop quota is used in the "less
> local" election, like the US congressional elections then we'll keep a
> two-party system.   An analogous case could be made for the use of Hare
> quotas in aldermen elections and Droop quotas in city council member
> elections.  But without giving third parties a constructive role to play,
> we're never going to be able to enforce regulations of $peech.
> The kicker needs to be to separate the advocacy for such from a
> perfectionist approach that presumes we need an EU-style multi-party system
> ASAP.  When those are connected, too many people say it's not possible and
> down-grade it's short-run importance as an issue.
> JL:I agree. From tactical point of view one can drive the reform forward
> in many more or less hidden ways. But if we talk directly about the
> targets, I believe an attempt to establish an improved two-party system
> where also third parties can survive, challenge the current parties, and
> maybe even bypass them one day and become a new dominant party if the
> current dominat parties are not good enough, will have a different
> supporter basis than a proposal to switch completely to a multi-party
> system with coalition governments etc.

dlw: The kicker also is to figure out who'd benefit from a contested
duopoly and get them to fund it's initial push.  The difficulty of doing
such may be why FairVote seems to have dialed back its push for
proportionality in representation, as indicated by Richie's NYTIMES

>> JL: After that has been agreed, it is easier to pick the used election
>> methods.
> dlw:I think the best way to build consensus is to take inspiration from
> our practical difficulties.  Our difficulty is that to get reform, we need
> to get support from leaders of the two parties that dominate our two-party
> system.  This should make that agreement a lot easier.
> Yes. Proven practical benefits are better than priven theoretical benefits.
> JL: Now, in addition to technical problems one has also a mixture of
> political higher level targets injected in the discussion, and that does
> not make it any easier.
> dlw: That is part of what holds up electoral reform: we get caught up in
> reaching the political higher level targets and don't reach for the
> low-hanging fruit that will have a significant "trickle-up effect".
>> JL: At the top level there is the presidential system that is tailored
>> for the two-party approach. If one would give up the two-party approach at
>> that level one might move also e.g. away from the single-party government
>> approach towards multi-party govennments.
> dlw: I think Ralph Nader has shown the barrenness of focusing on the prez
> system.  Anything that requires a US constitutional amendment should be
> ruled off the table, IMO.
>> JL: At the lower levels one might consider also two-party oriented
>> methods that are allow also third parties to take part in the competition.
>> I mean that if one wants to stay in the two-party model, one may not need
>> full multi-winner methods at the lower levels. It would be enough to e.g.
>> guarantee that also third parties can survive and get their candidates
>> elected, and that some third party may also one day replace one of the
>> major parties as one of the two leading parties in some states, and maybe
>> at national level too. I think this more lmited approac to multiple parties
>> is quite different from typical multi-party requirements that typically
>> include requirements like proportional represnetation.
> dlw: But a "less-is-more" PR cd help such come about, as it arguably did
> with IL and NY historically.
>> Of course one may also adopt different models in the two layers,
>> two-party system for the rop level and proportonal representation for some
>> state level representative bodies. Above I also made the assumption that
>> the strict tw-party approach where there are two fixed parties and that's
>> it, is not considered acceptable / sufficient.
> dlw:I agree that the only good two-party system is one that is
> meritocratic, whereby which 2 parties are at the top and dominate can
> change or where one of them can be forced to merge with a successful 3rd
> party, like with the Democratic Farm-Labor party in MN.
> A system that allows third parties to grow could easily lead to 1) one of
> the major parties changing its opinions in the direction of the rising
> party or 2) merge with the rising party. That is ok as long as the change
> in opinions is true, since in this way the voice of the people will be
> heard and the system will change in the direction that the voters want. A
> very pure two-party system on the other hand may much easier become a ping
> pong game between two equally unwanted alternatives.

dlw: The use of civil disobedience can hold the leaders of the major party
accountable to their promises made to 3rd parties.

>> JL: The message I'm trying to carry with this, is simply that after one
>> names the targets, it is much easier to discuss what the best methods to
>> implement those targets would be. Is it a two-party system, a flexible
>> two-party system, or a proportional system, and are the targets different
>> at different levels and in different bodies.
> dlw:I agree, would you agree that if we were to target a flexible 2-party
> system that a modified form of IRV would be more acceptable for
> single-winner elections than in an EU-style multi-party system?
> Pure single-winner elections have a strong (fixed) two-party tendency. An
> "approximately three-party" method would make the system more flexible.
> Full proportional multi-party elections would be an overkill. If you want
> to have a more flexible two-party system the ideal methods are methods that
> are targeted to meet just these requirements. Proportional methods with
> limitations to e.g. three candidates could do in some cases, no problem
> with taht, but only if they happen to implement teh agreed "flexibel
> two-party" targets well.

dlw: You didn't really answer my question.  If PR with limitations
inevitably gets coupled with single-winner elections in the pursuit of a
flexible 2-party system then wd an Approval-Voting enhanced form of IRV
help us reach the target?  Burlington VT shows that the top 2 parties can
get changed by the use of IRV, and (at least part of) the former major
party wd remain a sizeable minor party that could contest the duopoly
relatively easily.


> Juho
> From: Juho Laatu <juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk>
> To: EM list <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
> Cc:
> Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 22:07:20 +0200
> Subject: Re: [EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.
> As I earlier wrote, I think the US has many options on how to go forward
> with the reform. The presidential election is maybe the most interetsting
> one. If one uses Condorcet, that means that the president may come from a
> minor party or be independent. Let's say that there is an independent
> gentleman candidate whome republicans prefer to the democrat candidate and
> vice versa. That candidate wins. Now the problem is that this candidate has
> no supporting party machinery, and he is supposed to form a government and
> nominate numerous people to other major positions. It seems that the role
> of the president would change considerably from what it is today.

But to change the prez elections so much is not easy.  It wd probably
require a constitutional amendment.  Isn't it better to focus on changes at
the state level, after getting the current law prohibiting the use of
multi-seat elections for fed'l elections ruled as unconstitutional on
account of its discriminatory effects against minorities.

> The softer approach is to use some advanced method but allow only
> representatives of major parties to win. One example of such a method is to
> first use a rankings based proportional method to pick two of the
> candidates, and then arrange a runoff between these two. This method would
> allow people to vote also for third party and independent candidates, just
> like in Condorcet. But the gentleman of the earlier example would probably
> not be elected. If there is a third party that has almost as many first
> preference supporters (or "above dem/rep" supporters), then the candidate
> of that party could win.

dlw: How is this preferable to the use of IRV+, presuming that the US
system as a whole continues to foster the existence of two major parties?

> On 9.2.2012, at 18.49, Dave Ketchum wrote:
> On Feb 8, 2012, at 3:29 PM, Juho Laatu wrote:
> On 8.2.2012, at 16.18, David L Wetzell wrote:
> ...
> At any rate, this is why I've argued that ascertaining the best
> single-winner election rule is nowhere near as important as pitching the
> importance of mixing the use of single-winner and multi-winner election
> rules, with the latter replacing the former more so in "more local"
> elections that are not competitive often in single-winner elections.
> DK: I disagree:
> .     We have single-winner purposes such as mayor or governor, unless we
> redesign the goals.
> .     And purposes such as legislator which can be packaged as
> single-winner or multi-winner, with the PR backers promoting multi-winner.
> dlw: Yes, but if you switch the legislator elections to PR then that will
inevitably improve the inherently single-winner elections, regardless of
which election rule is used.  This is because of spill-overs across
elections.  From a public choice perspective, if a party cannot dominate
one legislative body, it cannot leverage it to get an advantage in other
sorts of elections.  Thus, other elections become more competitive as well
and there emerge more checks and balances...

> DK:Note that, unlike with TPTP, or even IRV, Condorcet voters can back,
> besides the "better" of the two-parties, those for whatever issues this
> voter considers important - and get their backing noted in the vote counts
> (the big difference between IRV and Condorcet).
> dlw: They can rank 3rd party candidates with IRV too.  And, even if a
growing 3rd party were to "spoil" for its more proximate major party for
one election, if the 3rd party remains rooted in the belief that they are
right, they will force the political center to shift in the next election,
which will not be easily over-turned.

Condorcet, IMO, is perfectionism.  Just imagine what a nightmare might
emerge if there is no CW and like 2% of the ballots got spoiled?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "James Gilmour" <jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk>
To: "'Juho Laatu'" <juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk>, "'EM list'" <
election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2012 00:02:12 -0000
Subject: Re: [EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.
> Juho Laatu   > Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2012 8:29 PM
> I think I agree when I say that the first decision (in the
> USA) is whether to make the current two-party system work
> better or whether to aim at a multi-party system.

Don't you think you might just be starting in the wrong place?  Asking the
wrong first question?

In a representative democracy, surely the first requirement is to ensure
that any "representative assembly" (e.g. state or federal
legislature or city council) is properly representative of those who vote.
 If when provided with the means to choose freely among
all significant viewpoints, the voters choose to cluster around two
parties, then a "two-party system" will properly and fairly
represent those voters.  In other another jurisdiction, the voters may
choose to cluster in significant proportions around three or
more parties when one would hope the voting system would be sufficiently
sensitive for all the significant clusters to be
represented directly.

dlw: My 2 cents is you must start with what is and bear in mind how your
opponents are going to react to any proposed change.
This is an application of game-theory, whereby one must choose the best
strategy given one's opponents' likely reactions.

JL:IRV is a method that loks good at first sight, but that has some
problems. It clearly seems to respect the idea that a pairwise winner
should win at the last round, and maybe be strong also in the other rounds.
I think IRV has also another nature, i.e. the tendency to favour large
paries. This property correlates with the othe approach to single-winner
methods that I discussed earlier. But also here IRV is quite heuristic and
approximate, and does not systematically implement that approach either. It
is thus possible that some people see IRV as "a bad Condrcet-like method",
and some see it as a "improved two-party method with some problems". The
method that I described earlier could be seen to be a cleaner method that
represents this other approach to IRV (while Condorcet represents another
approach to it).

dlw: You'd understand that IRV remains supported by pragmatists who
question whether your method is enuf of an improvement to justify the
replacement of IRV by it.  Or maybe the use of 2 stages is something we
want to avoid...
I think changes in voter habits that come with learning by voting would
suffice to ward off the sort of pathology exhibited in Burlington.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/attachments/20120210/ea8c75e6/attachment-0004.htm>

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list