Website owner:  James Miller

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Many decisions involve choosing between alternative packages

   Most of the decisions and choices that people find themselves 
   confronted with in life come as choices between "packages".  
   Take choosing a religious denomination.  Each denomination 
   (whether it be Catholicism, Baptistism, Pentacostalism or 
   whatever) is not a single thing but a complex composite of 
   things i.e. a package of things.  A person trying to choose 
   between denominations is really contemplating making a decision 
   as to which of several available packages he is going to "buy" 
   (or choose).  Take another example.  Take the case of a voter 
   trying to decide who he should vote for at the polls.  He must 
   pick one of several candidates.  But the decision is difficult 
   because each candidate represents not one thing but a package 
   of things.  There may be a dozen issues involved and each 
   candidate represents a different combination of stands on the 
   different issues and you may like one candidate's stand on some 
   of the issues and another candidate's stand on other of the 
   issues.  Besides that there are other factors involved such as 
   your estimation of the characters of the various candidates, 
   the differing capabilities they may have, amounts of experience 
   they have, etc..  In the same way when one buys something such 
   as an automobile or a house, one chooses between packages.  
   There may be some features of one automobile that one likes and 
   other features of another automobile that he likes and making a 
   choice may be difficult, but he must make a decision.  The same 
   goes for houses.  There are the pros and cons, strong points 
   and weak points, pluses and minuses that one must consider.

   We make a multitude of decisions every day and most decisions 
   involve choosing between a number of options where each 
   option is a package.  We spend out life choosing among 

   Picking one package over another is, in general, a value 
   judgement.  One cannot just simply say that one package is 
   better than another.  Which package is better depends on how 
   one weighs the individual elements of the package.  When one 
   chooses one package over another one decides which elements of 
   the packages are most important (and how important), weighs 
   them all, and makes a judgment on how to choose.  The problem 
   is somewhat similar to being asked to pick the best of three 
   baskets of fruit when the first basket contains 3 bananas, 5 
   oranges and 4 apples;  the second basket contains 7 bananas, 2 
   oranges and 3 apples;  and the third basket contains 1 banana, 
   2 oranges and 9 apples.  How can one say which is "better"?  
   The answer depends on one's individual preferences with respect 
   to bananas, oranges and apples.  There is no "right" answer.  
   This problem of choosing among baskets of fruit can be viewed 
   as a sort of simplified representative model of any problem 
   requiring a choice between alternative packages.  At least 
   there is the potential that a problem requiring a choice 
   between alternative packages may in the end reduce, in a 
   logical sense, to the "baskets of fruit" problem and have no 
   "right" answer.

   Mar 1980                  

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