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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

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 ...

Constituent Authority, Richard Kay Dec 2010

Constituent Authority, Richard Kay

Richard Kay

The force of a constitution, like the force of all enacted law, derives, in significant part, from the circumstances of its enactment. Legal and political theory have long recognized the logical necessity of a “constituent power.” That recognition, however, tells us little about what is necessary for the successful enactment of an enduring constitution. Long term acceptance of a constitution requires a continuing regard for the process that brought it into being. There must be, that is, recognition of the “constituent authority” of the constitution-makers. This paper is a consideration of the idea of “constituent authority” drawing on a comparison ...