Rational social choice is possible: a refutation of arrow's impossibility theorem part 1



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RATIONAL SOCIAL CHOICE IS POSSIBLE: A REFUTATION OF ARROW'S IMPOSSIBILITY THEOREM
PART 1
In 1951 Kenneth J. Arrow published "Social Choice and Individual Values"1 in which he explored the question of whether or not individual preferences could be aggregated in some rational way in order to form a social choice. He postulated five rational and ethical criteria that such a social decision function should meet, and then proceeded to prove that no such social decision function existed. This theorem is known as Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, and an impressive literature concerning itself with what has come to be known as social choice theory has developed in the last nearly forty years. A sub-field of welfare economics has thereby been created.

Some of the literature has been concerned with finding a way around Arrow's basic result that no rational social choice is possible by relaxing one or more of his criteria.2,3,4,5 Arrow's theorem has important political, economic and social implications since, if indeed no rational way to aggregate individual preferences is possible and Pareto optimality is the best we can do, then a populist democracy which closely reflects the will of the people becomes impossible and free market capitalism acquires a theoretically endorsed superiority over any kind of populist socialistic or democratic economy. This realization has produced pessimism and even nihilism among proponents of welfare economics.6 However, advocates of democratic voting systems should be equally concerned as Arrow's result tarnishes the validity of democratic elections as well.7,8



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