Saturday, June 20, 2015

Election Paradoxes And Faustian Agents

I have been trying to reread Donald Saari on election paradoxes. I have previously considered a few parallels between the Condorcet paradox and models of agents as composed of multiple selves. It seems to me that one could draw more analogies here. I do not plan to pursue the research agenda outlined here - I'm not sure how plausible its results would be. Anyways, Saari provides a comprehensive analysis of a range of voting procedures. Could a fuller range of such procedures - as opposed to pairwise majority rule - be applied to models of multiple selves?

For example, consider a model of a person as having multiple selves, where each one of those selves has a set of preferences over commodities. And suppose the individual, in making choices, resolves those selves with a procedure analogous to an election procedure (e.g., plurality vote, antiplurality vote, Borda Count). Suppose which procedure is used is context-dependent. Can an outside agent modify the context somehow such that the individual follows a different procedure, with consequent effects on the individual's choice?

Or consider two people each composed of the same number of multiple selves, with the preferences of those selves the same across these two people. But suppose each person resolves those selves with a different voting procedure. Maybe these two different voting procedures yield the same "best" choice for one specific menu of choices, but order the non-best choices differently. So if a new menu was created with the best choice removed, these two people - who have identical preferences, in some sense - would make different choices.

I suppose if you follow research along these lines, it would be theoretical research. I do not know how an experiment could elicit the required information to determine the preferences of the multiple selves and the election procedure. I guess the challenge would be to come up with an account consistent with some behavioral anomaly arising in economics experiments. Even better might be to suggest a new experiment and to implement it.

  • Donald G. Saari (2001). Chaotic Elections! A Mathematician Looks at Voting, AMS.

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