Re: BPR-L Intransitives of Determination of Priorities

From: John Conover <>
Subject: Re: BPR-L Intransitives of Determination of Priorities
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 11:28:03 -0700 (PDT)

> John,
> Insomnia?  Heh.  I have a 13-month old son and a pregnant wife.  Insomnia
> is a way of life for me.  ;)


> Thanks for the references on Arrow et al.  One thing I think would really
> help my understanding of this is what Arrow, Hoffman, et al define as a
> "logical process" for group decision-making.

"Logical process," was my choice of words, (and probably not a good
choice at that.) What it means is that there exists no set of axioms
(rules) that can be used to order a group's priorities, eg., priority
setting can not be axiomatized (which kind of throws out the
scientific method, voting, etc., in such situations.) I think one must
differentiate between logical process, and rational process in such
situations (again, my choice of words.) For example, although priority
setting can not be a logical process, it can be a rational process,
(for example, we might use Robert's Rules to conduct a meeting that
set's priorities in an order fashion, etc.)

> I'd make a terrible economist.  It was my worst subject in grad school,
> even though I did reasonably well in the other mathematically oriented
> disciplines.  (Statistics, quantitative decision-making, etc.)  My favorite
> areas are behavioral.  And to me, "logical" may have nothing to do with
> "real".

Oh, I agree. That's my point, exactly-"logical" doesn't have anything
to do with it, (but, how many times have you heard a logical argument
presented to rank priorities.) That is the essence of Arrow's work-he
formalized this. So, in priority setting, the intangables (like
leadership, rank, status, politics, etc.) will prevail.

> A variation on Xeno's Paradox: "A bullet can never catch a running man, for
> in the time it takes the bullet to travel to where the man was when the
> bullet started it's journey, than man has moved."
> Logically, this means you can forever outrun a bullet because of a theory
> of temporal displacement.  In reality, you're dead or injured if you expect
> Xeno's "logic" to keep you safe.
> Which brings me back to the question of logical processes.  What are they,
> and why are they important?

You hit on the point I was trying to make. They aren't that important,
but for some reason, we tend to ignore that. We tend to ignore that
such things can only be resolved by "human process." Roger Penrose (of
Stephen Hawking Nobel fame) draws the conclusion that since such
things can not be resolved by logical process (and therefore can not
be automated,) that there is a qualitative difference between machines
and the human mind.

> I think I'm going to enjoy this discussion.  I love exploring new areas of
> thought.  (New to me, anyway.)

Yea, it is kind of interesting. Take care, Dale ...



John Conover,,

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