[EM] SARA voting: easier-to-describe MAS

Toby Pereira tdp201b at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Oct 27 02:29:30 PDT 2016

With the 300/100 dollar example, the gamble is the same as saying that two people would prefer to take a gamble so that one of them wins $301 and the other wins nothing than they both take $100 each guaranteed. Not all people would hold the same utility values, so that particular example wouldn't work for everyone, of course.
But in any case, a maxmin approach doesn't work because most people would take some sort of gamble like the above. Almost all pairs of people would take a coin flip gamble for $1000 rather than a guaranteed $1. Maxmin suggests that the $1 for each is better.
With the yacht example, it could be that even a whole yacht isn't sufficient to equal a dollar in the poor person's eyes. But there are real life examples a little bit like this anyway. Would you ban fairground rides? Each person who has a go on one has only a small increase in their overall lifetime utility for having a ride on one of these, and a very small proportion of people get injured or even killed on them. It would be very hard to justify their existence using any sort of maxmin approach, and most people seem to be taking more of an average utility approach when engaging in some sort of activity that comes with a small risk of injury.

      From: Michael Ossipoff <email9648742 at gmail.com>
 To: Toby Pereira <tdp201b at yahoo.co.uk>; "election-methods at electorama.com" <election-methods at electorama.com> 
 Sent: Wednesday, 26 October 2016, 19:47
 Subject: Re: [EM] SARA voting: easier-to-describe MAS

On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 10:28 AM, Toby Pereira <tdp201b at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

Also, a given amount of money is worth more in utility to a poor person than a rich person, so Michael's analogy of taking a dollar from a homeless person and giving it to a billionaire doesn't work. I know he gave a previous example where the billionaire gets a yacht or something and it does get more debatable at that point.

Yes, I added that chance for that reason.

But I don't think the maximum minimum utility is necessarily even the best principle to use anyway. There are good arguments for maximising average utility. 

I haven't heard one. The argument below doesn't successfully show that.


If I am given 100 dollars, then there is an amount of money that I would gamble that for on a coin flip, or where I'd call them equivalent. Let's say I decide that I'd gamble it for anything more than 300 dollars. That's the same as me saying that for me the difference in utility between 0 and 100 dollars is the same as the difference between 100 and 300 dollars. It is also equivalent to saying that if there are two people with the same utility ratings as me, it's as good to give one of them 300 dollars as it is to give each of them 100 dollars. 

It results in the same total utility. To say that that means its just as good, circularly assumes what you seek to show.

You haven't shown that giving one person $300 and giving the other person nothing is as good as giving $100 to each. ...you've shown only that the total utility is the same.

You can't justify taking a dollar away from a homeless man who badly needs it, and giving another yacht to a billionaire.


I have the same intuitions about rich/poor people, but you need a logically consistent framework as well as intuitions.

I don't deny that logic can't apply to some ethical/moral questions. But logic has nothing to do with the basis of ethical and moral choices. 

The basis of ethics & morality is intuitive & subjective, not logical.

Michael Ossipoff

(I have no way to delete the text below)


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