Edited by Jac C. Heckelman and Nicholas R. Miller
Chapter 14: Arrow’s Theorem and its descendants
The mathematical study of voting systems is motivated by the fact that any group seeking to make collective decisions must choose some method of translating the preferences of the group into social choices. The question of how the multiple and competing preferences of a diverse population can be aggregated is the foundation of a branch of economics and political science termed social choice theory (or, sometimes, collective choice theory). While the comparison of alternative voting schemes can be traced to ancient times, the publication of Kenneth Arrow’s monograph Social Choice and Individual Values in 1951 established social choice theory as a field. This work, for which Arrow received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1972, sets out Arrow’s famous ‘impossibility theorem’, demonstrating that, when voters have three or more alternatives from which to choose, no voting system is capable of simultaneously meeting certain minimal conditions of fairness and sensibility. The significance of Arrow’s contribution lies not only in his surprising result, but also in his pioneering use of an axiomatic approach to studying the problem of voting system design.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.