Is there a better word for "utilitarian"/"consensual"?


CES, Riker, and Hillinger use “utilitarian” (or “Bentham winner”)

Emerson and Wiredu use “consensual”

Both are similar in concept, trying to find the solution that best pleases the entire electorate, rather than just the majority at the expense of a minority. Is there a better word for this concept, though? I’d consider Score, Approval, STAR, 3-2-1, Borda, etc. to be in this class of voting system, in that their goal is to maximize voter satisfaction rather than maximizing majority dominance, even if they don’t necessarily elect the highest-rated candidate all the time.


Majoritarianism, utalitarianism, and consensual, are all 3 unique philosiphies.

Majoritarianism - elect candidates that are preferred by a majority.

Utilitarianism - elect candidates that maximize *average voter satisfaction (also called voter utility, hence the name utilitarianism).

*or geometric mean if you want to maximize the utilitarian version of proportionality. One voting method that approximately does this is harmonic voting:

Consensual - elect candidates that maximize consensus (candidates that are at least broadly liked by everybody).

Here is where a utilitarian outcome differs from a consensual outcome:

60% of voters rate candidate A five stars and candidate B three stars.
40% of voters rate candidate A one star and candidate B three stars.

If you wanted to maximize average utility, you would elect candidate A, however, candidate B is not as polarizing as candidate A so if you wanted to maximize consensus you might instead elect candidate B.

The way I see it, majoritarianism and consensual are two opposite extremes.

Majoritarianism’s biggest flaw is that it elects polarizing candidates too often.

Consensual’s biggest flaw is that it elects milk-toast candidates too often.

Utilitarianism is the perfect middle ground between those two opposing philosophies.


Well here in the United States we believe that the government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. There is no monarch who bestows the right to given on a Parliament there’s just us. A republic of women and men who consent to public servents taking care of stuff we’re too busy to.

Utilitarianism is by far the worst philosophy every. Inlf 99% are happy because 1% are slaves we can’t abide by that here in America. Consent is the gold standard for Government because it’s not voluntary it’s compulsory. When picking where to go to dinner utility it up but when we’re talking about rules we have to be live under consensus is everything.

“Consensus elects boring candidates” has to be a joke I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that with a straight face.


To actually answer the question, no, I’m not aware of any better terminology than utilitarian/consensual, at least, not in a single word.

I have been using variants of “Consensus Based” (utilitarian/consensual) in opposition to “Dominance Based” (majoritarian), and has worked for me.

For example, I will point out that methods that ignore everything except relative preference (such as all Ordinal methods) are “based on Dominance, that the majority completely overrides the will of the majority, even if there is a candidate that everyone could agree with”


The problem is, there will ALWAYS be a 1% that is or claims to be oppressed no matter what the government does. And I would argue that if the 99% gave up a little so that your oppressed 1% could gain a lot, that is what utilitarianism would select.

Before you rich people turn this against the middle class, let me remind you that utility is more like the logarithm or maybe square root of wealth…


You’ve got this backwards. In America, if 55% want to enslave the other 45%, then that’s just fine, because American democracy is majoritarian. The majority gets what they want and the minority gets nothing. (The Constitution is intended to limit this kind of tyranny, but that’s a separate issue from voting reform.) Majoritarianism is only desirable in the context of binary FPTP elections; it’s not a desirable end in itself. (Unfortunately a lot of people misunderstand this and try to design their voting systems to meet the majority criterion.)

The utilitarian approach tries to find the option that best pleases all the voters, not just the majority. So if:

  • Candidate A is polarizing, loved by 55% and hated by the rest (overall approval rating 55%)
  • Candidate B is moderate, and liked by everyone (overall approval rating 75%)

Majoritarian systems will choose A, because the majority prefers them, while Utilitarian systems will choose B, because they have a higher overall approval and will make the population happier overall.


Sounds like a great reason to promote consensus which favors general welfare over special interest.

There’s no consensus if we should subsidize ballet theaters or paintball arenas so consensus would be to do neither. With proportional representation youd get both boon doggles


Special interests are only problems if they are at the expense of everyone outside the special group. Otherwise, the outsiders will simply be neutral about the whole thing.


Special interests always negatively effect everyone else. A farm subsidy for cattle negatively impacts everyone who pays for it. Something that benefits everyone is by definition general welfare.