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The Case for Utilitarian Voting

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  • Hillinger, Claude

Abstract

Utilitarian voting (UV) is defined in this paper as any voting rule that allows the voter to rank all of the alternatives by means of the scores permitted under a given voting scale. Specific UV rules that have been proposed are approval voting, allowing the scores 0, 1; range voting, allowing all numbers in an interval as scores; evaluative voting, allowing the scores -1, 0, 1. The paper deals extensively with Arrow’s impossibility theorem that has been interpreted as precluding a satisfactory voting mechanism. I challenge the relevance of the ordinal framework in which that theorem is expressed and argue that instead utilitarian, i.e. cardinal social choice theory is relevant for voting. I show that justifications of both utilitarian social choice and of majority rule can be modified to derive UV. The most elementary derivation of UV is based on the view that no justification exists for restricting voters’ freedom to rank the alternatives on a given scale.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 653.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:653

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Keywords: approval voting; Arrow’s impossibility theorem ; cardinal collective choice ; evaluative voting ; majority rule ; range voting ; utilitarian voting;

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References

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  1. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
  2. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
  3. Hillinger, Claude, 2004. "On the Possibility of Democracy and Rational Collective Choice," Discussion Papers in Economics 429, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Jonathan Levin & Barry Nalebuff, 1995. "An Introduction to Vote-Counting Schemes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
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Cited by:
  1. Laruelle, Annick & Rodríguez Alcantud, José Carlos, . "To appove or not to approve: this is not the only question," IKERLANAK Ikerlanak;2012-63, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  2. Antoinette Baujard & Frédéric Gavrel & Herrade Igersheim & Jean-François Laslier & Isabelle Lebon, 2013. "Who's Favored by Evaluative Voting? An Experiment Conducted During the 2012 French Presidential Election," Working Papers hal-00803024, HAL.
  3. José Alcantud & Annick Laruelle, 2014. "Dis&approval voting: a characterization," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 1-10, June.
  4. 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.
  5. Manfred J. Holler & Alain Marciano, 2010. "Machiavelli’s Possibility Hypothesis," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 4(1), pages 018-031, March.

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