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Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz Jan 2011

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

This short nontechnical article reviews the Arrow Impossibility Theorem and its implications for rational democratic decisionmaking. In the 1950s, economist Kenneth J. Arrow proved that no method for producing a unique social choice involving at least three choices and three actors could satisfy four seemingly obvious constraints that are practically constitutive of democratic decisionmaking. Any such method must violate such a constraint and risks leading to disturbingly irrational results such and Condorcet cycling. I explain the theorem in plain, nonmathematical language, and discuss the history, range, and prospects of avoiding what seems like a fundamental theoretical challenge to the possibility ...