Voting and the Cardinal Aggregation of Judgments
25 Pages Posted: 31 May 2004
Date Written: May 2004
The paper elaborates the idea that voting is an instance of the aggregation of judgments, this being a more general concept than the aggregation of preferences. To aggregate judgments one must first measure them. I show that such aggregation has been unproblematic whenever it has been based on an independent and unrestricted scale. The scales analyzed in voting theory are either context dependent or subject to unreasonable restrictions. This is the real source of the diverse 'paradoxes of voting' that would better be termed 'voting pathologies'. The theory leads me to advocate what I term evaluative voting. It can also be called utilitarian voting as it is based on having voters express their cardinal preferences. The alternative that maximizes the sum wins. This proposal operationalizes, in an election context, the abstract cardinal theories of collective choice due to Fleming and Harsanyi. On pragmatic grounds, I argue for a three valued scale for general elections.
Keywords: Approval voting, cardinal utility, instant runoff voting, plurality voting, voting paradoxes
JEL Classification: D71, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation