Re: Why plurality is not "wrong"

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Sat Apr 17 2004 - 00:32:41 CDT

On Apr 17, 2004, at 12:45 AM, Jeff Almeida wrote:
> I'm asking is that we include a blanket caveat that pluralities are
> more
> likely to admit aborrent results


This is so very much not the purpose of OVC. It is utterly and wholly
irrelevant; and it does nothing except discredit OVC. If we publish
that, we've lost the game. Actually, I'm not sure if you mean
'aberrant' or 'abhorrent', but neither is an OVC position.

It is every bit as inappropriate to address this claim within OVC as it
is to address all the other social, historical, political problems I
have mentioned in another note as outside scope. I, for one, would
quit the project before I'd go along with pushing something like this.

> "The plurality vote is the only procedure that will elect someone
> who's despised by almost two thirds of the voters." THAT is the
> fundamental flaw with pluralities, and it is a technical, not a
> political problem.

I honestly do not understand why this is a problem to begin with,
either technically or politically.

Well, I can understand a political opinion that this isn't the result a
given person "feels good" about. But technically, I am quite certain
there is nothing -in principle- wrong with this result. OK, fine, it
doesn't match Jeff's intuitions. But that's exactly how far a
criticism of it can go, there is absolutely no substance beyond that.

Likewise, I can understand how someone might not -feel good- about
having a candidate win who was the first choice of no voter (but the
second choice of most everyone). Something seem wrong about that
outcome to me... and such is possible with almost every ranked-order

FWIW, I've done enough graduate math that I understand the Condercet
criteria with no particular effort. And I also happen to have a Ph.D.
in political philosophy and lots of publications in ethics, so I'm not
wholly unfamiliar with the notion of "right outcome." I just don't
find any of these allegedly technical analyses of "right result" to be
particularly compelling (or even interesting). I know enough to know
the question is strictly political.

I -can- "get" the intuition that electing someone actively disliked by
60% of the electorate is not such a good thing. And I can -equally-
"get" the intuition that a candidate who is enthusiastically liked by
more people than is any other single candidate should serve in the
office. Are the likes or the dislikes among the electorate more
important? I don't know: (informed) intuitions vary. I'm not going to
buy into some positivistic, technocratic mystification that pretends
there is some non-political answer to this question.

Yours, David...

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Received on Fri Apr 30 23:17:10 2004

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