Utilitarian Collective Choice and Voting
AbstractIn his seminal Social Choice and Individual Values, Kenneth Arrow stated that his theory applies to voting. Many voting theorists have been convinced that, on account of Arrow’s theorem, all voting methods must be seriously flawed. Arrow’s theory is strictly ordinal, the cardinal aggregation of preferences being explicitly rejected. In this paper I point out that all voting methods are cardinal and therefore outside the reach of Arrow’s result. Parallel to Arrow’s ordinal approach, there evolved a consistent cardinal theory of collective choice. This theory, most prominently associated with the work of Harsanyi, continued the older utilitarian tradition in a more formal style. The purpose of this paper is to show that various derivations of utilitarian SWFs can also be used to derive utilitarian voting (UV). By this I mean a voting rule that allows the voter to score each alternative in accordance with a given scale. UV-k indicates a scale with k distinct values. The general theory leaves k to be determined on pragmatic grounds. A (1,0) scale gives approval voting. I prefer the scale (1,0,-1) and refer to the resulting voting rule as evaluative voting. A conclusion of the paper is that the defects of conventional voting methods result not from Arrow’s theorem, but rather from restrictions imposed on voters’ expression of their preferences. The analysis is extended to strategic voting, utilizing a novel set of assumptions regarding voter behavior.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 473.
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
approval voting ; cardinal collective choice ; evaluative voting ; strategic voting ; voting paradoxes;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
- D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2005-01-02 (All new papers)
- NEP-CDM-2005-01-02 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-DCM-2005-01-02 (Discrete Choice Models)
- NEP-DCM-2005-01-04 (Discrete Choice Models)
- NEP-GTH-2005-01-02 (Game Theory)
- NEP-HPE-2005-01-02 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-MIC-2005-01-02 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-POL-2005-01-02 (Positive Political Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Itzhak Gilboa & Dov Samet & David Schmeidler, 2004.
"Utilitarian Aggregation of Beliefs and Tastes,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 932-938, August.
- Antoinette Baujard & Herrade Igersheim, 2007. "Expérimentation du vote par note et du vote par approbation lors de l'élection présidentielle française du 22 avril 2007," Post-Print halshs-00337290, HAL.
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