[MUD-Dev] curses and grief players

Timothy Dang tdang at U.Arizona.EDU
Mon Jul 24 13:14:27 New Zealand Standard Time 2000


The "Tragedy of the Commons" has come up several times in this thread as
regards majority rule. I'm concerned that it's being misunderstood /
misapplied. 

The only important way that the tragedy of the commons applies to a
majority-rules voting system is that such a system doesn't inherently
provide people with adequate motivation to actually vote. For almost
everyone, the system-provided rewars from voting (not including the warm
feeling that comes from doing one's civic duty) is zero, because only one
person (or two, depending on how ties are handled) actually casts the
deciding vote. While the cost in time and effort of voting may be
minimal, it almost certainly outweihs the benefit.

But that's the only application of the "Tragedy of the Commons" to
majority-rules voting. There may be other failures of such a system for
decision-making, but they should be blamed on different dynamics.

Speaking of voting schemes, I was about to post on the so-far-trafficless
IREAD list about _Games_And_Decisions_ by R. Duncan Luce and Howard
Raiffa, but it applies well to this discussion. It's a classic book on
game theory from the '50's, which was out of print but Dover Press
(Dover Rocks!) has begun publishing again. Some of the material in it gets
more wieght than in more recent game theory books, although more recent
innovations are also missing. Particularly good are the discussion of
*cooperative* games, whcih tend to be ignored, and (finally getting to
relavence) the chapter on group decision making. That chapter discusses
Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, which demonstrates that there is no "fair"
voting pocedure when there are three or more alternatives. It is important
to keep in mind that the term "fair" here has a very special mathematical
meaning which may have nothing to do with its normal meaning. The chapter
presents Arrow's theorem, and also talks about modifications to
"fairness" or other assumptions of the theorem that folks have tried to
mitigate the result. There's also a small section on majority rule.

------------------------------
Timothy O'Neill Dang / Cretog8
520-321-4015
One monkey don't stop no show.




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