[EM] Cardinal and ordinal methods (was Re: Chicken Dilemma--To whom is it a problem?)

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at t-online.de
Mon Oct 21 00:34:33 PDT 2013

On 10/21/2013 07:56 AM, Juho Laatu wrote:
> Some more thoughts on cardinal and ordinal methods in otherwords that
> were already used by others.
> Most, if not all current political systems rely on the majority
> principle. If A has 60% support and B has 40% support the A
> supporters may not accept the idea that B supproters have stronger
> feelings about B>A than A supporters feel A>B. It is easier to just
> respect the majority opinion. It is also not possible to measure and
> compare the strengths of individual preferences reliably in
> *competitive* elections because people want their own vote to weigh
> at least as much as the votes of other voters. We may want the "one
> man one vote" principle to hold also in situations where one voter
> actually feels very strongly X>Y but another voter just makes a
> rational judgement X>Y when asked, without having any strong feelings
> about wich one of them will be elected. We may thus not want to give
> more power to the "hotheads" but want to hear also what the more
> moderate voters want to say.
> The majority and ranking based approaches to making democratic
> decisions may not be perfect, but in the competitive political
> environments they seem to be the best working approach anyway. With
> rankings we can have some resonably strategy free methods that work
> without problems and complaints in the competive political
> environment.

There's also a DSV argument and a related "democratic peacefulness" 
argument in favor of methods that pass Majority.

In all reasonable methods I can think of, even if the method doesn't 
pass Majority (i.e. doesn't let a majority dictate the outcome), the 
majority can force that outcome if they're strategic. So why should the 
better logistically equipped majority win? Instead, have the method act 
*as if* it would elect the majority winner each time without any 
strategizing being required.

The related peacefulness argument goes that a democracy is not just 
important in the sense that it can find good solutions, but also in the 
sense that the losers know that they lost fairly. If they don't, they 
might "strategically force the outcome" in the most drastic manner - by 
violence. Even minorities can do so if the method doesn't find a good 
compromise and society is polarized enough. This particular argument is 
a bit weaker than the previous, though, because one could use it to 
argue against compromise methods, saying that if a majority gets their 
second choice instead of their first, they might resort to violence... 
and that doesn't happen. At least it doesn't happen much in 
parliamentary PR systems, which is the closest thing we have to 
compromise-seeking systems actually implemented.

As for measuring opinion, there are hybrid scales (technically ordinal) 
like MJ's. And methods that use them do pass Majority. One way to 
consider it is as methods that ask you to rank, but where you can skip 
ranks, and if I recall correctly, at least one of the Bucklin methods 
had the ballots set up like that.

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