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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hillinger, Claude, 2005. "The Case for Utilitarian Voting," Discussion Papers in Economics 653, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:653
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 434-434.
    2. Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753, April.
    3. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
    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.
    5. Hillinger, Claude, 2004. "On the Possibility of Democracy and Rational Collective Choice," Discussion Papers in Economics 429, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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 of BETA 2013-08, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    2. Ginsburgh, Victor & Moreno-Ternero, Juan D. & Weber, Shlomo, 2017. "Ranking languages in the European Union: Before and after Brexit," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 139-151.
    3. Rodríguez Alcantud, José Carlos & Laruelle, Annick, 2012. "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.
    4. Laruelle, Annick, 2018. "Voting and expressing dissatisfaction: an experiment during the 2017 French Presidential election," IKERLANAK Ikerlanak;2018-106, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    5. Steven Brams & Richard Potthoff, 2015. "The paradox of grading systems," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 165(3), pages 193-210, December.
    6. repec:eee:gamebe:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:227-238 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
    8. Antonin Macé, 2017. "Voting with evaluations: characterizations of evaluative voting and range voting," Working Papers halshs-01222200, HAL.
    9. Marcus Pivato, 2016. "Asymptotic utilitarianism in scoring rules," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 47(2), pages 431-458, August.
    10. Antonin Macé, 2015. "Voting with Evaluations: When Should We Sum? What Should We Sum?," AMSE Working Papers 1544, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 29 Oct 2015.
    11. 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.
    12. José Alcantud & Annick Laruelle, 2014. "Dis&approval voting: a characterization," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 43(1), pages 1-10, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    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

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