Principles of Electoral Reform

By Michael Dummett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Rival Criteria

THE optimistic conclusion of the last chapter seems too good to be true. Unhappily, it is too good to be true. Individual preferences must be transitive. By this technical term it is simply meant that if an individual voter prefers A to B and B to C, he must prefer A to C: it would be quite irrational of him to claim to prefer C to A.But the same does not hold for majority preferences. They are sometimes intransitive: out of any set of voters, it may be that A is preferred to B by a majority of them, B to C by a different majority of them, and C to A by yet another majority of them. This so-called 'paradox of voting' is the fundamental fact of the theory of voting. It almost always comes as a great surprise to anyone who learns of it for the first time; but, once one has been told that it is so, it is easy to verify that it is indeed so. Suppose that our set of voters can be divided into three equal groups, sharing the same preferences between the candidates within each group; any two groups will together form a majority. A majority prefers A to B: so suppose this preference is shared by members of groups 1 and 2. A different majority prefers B to C; so suppose that this preference is shared by members of groups 1 and 3. We now know the full preferences of members of

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Principles of Electoral Reform
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • To Maurice Salles v
  • Preface vii
  • Abbreviations x
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Dual Purpose Of Elections 1
  • Chapter 2 - How to Think About Electoral Systems 6
  • Chapter 3 - Pr and The Alternative to It 18
  • Chapter 4 - The Dual-Vote Device 28
  • Chapter 5 - Who Will Win? Who Ought to Win? 36
  • Chapter 6 - Majority Preferences 47
  • Chapter 7 - Rival Criteria 58
  • Chapter 8 - Systems Based on Criteria 75
  • Chapter 9 - The Alternative Vote 89
  • Chapter 10 - The Wasted Vote 109
  • Chapter 11 - Multi-Member Constituencies 121
  • Chapter 12 - How to Do Better Than Stv 138
  • Chapter 13 - Proportional Representation 158
  • Chapter 14 - The Principles of Electoral Reform 174
  • Further Reading 187
  • Index 191
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