Social Choice and Individual Values

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Yale University Press, 1963 - Social Science - 124 pages
1 Review
The literature on the theory of social choice has grown considerably beyond the few items in existence at the time the first edition of this book appeared in 1951. Some of the new literature has dealt with the technical, mathematical aspects, more with the interpretive. My own thinking has also evolved somewhat, although I remain far from satisfied with present formulations. The exhaustion of the first edition provides a convenient time for a selective and personal stocktaking in the form of an appended commentary entitled, 'Notes on the Theory of Social Choice, 1963, ' containing reflections on the text and its omissions and on some of the more recent literature. This form has seemed more appropriate than a revision of the original text, which has to some extent acquired a life of its own.
 

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One of the foundations of decision theory and choice. Hear Arrow speak once when I was in graduate school, some years before he won the Nobel Prize in economics. Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
THE NATURE OF PREFERENCE AND CHOICE
9
THE SOCIAL WELFARE FUNCTION
22
THE COMPENSATION PRINCIPLE
34
THE GENERAL POSSIBILITY THEOREM FOR SOCIAL WELFARE FUNCTIONS
46
THE INDIVIDUALISTIC ASSUMPTIONS
61
SIMILARITY AS THE BASIS OF SOCIAL WELFARE JUDGMENTS
74
NOTES ON THE THEORY OF SOCIAL CHOICE
92
INDEX
121
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About the author (1963)

Kenneth Arrow, an American economist, is known for his contributions to mathematical economics. Educated at City College of New York and Columbia University, he has taught at Stanford and Harvard universities. He was awarded the Nobel Prize (jointly with Sir John Richard Hicks) for his work in welfare economics and the theory of social choice. The possibility of a theory of social choice, or collective choice based on the preferences of individuals has intrigued economists for some time. Arrow's Ph.D. thesis, published as Social Choice and Individual Values (1951), was the seminal work in the field of social choice theory and showed the impossibility of deriving efficient group outcomes based on the aggregate of rational individual preferences. In a later book, Social Choice and Multicriterion Decision-Making (1986), which was coauthored with Herve Raynaud, Arrow dealt with additional decision criteria and alternatives in a search for efficient group outcomes. Despite the importance of these two works, the general reader may find them somewhat difficult and abstruse. The work of most general equilibrium economists like Arrow is seldom well known outside the economics profession. Even so, Arrow's range of interests extends far beyond the straightforward mathematical treatment of economics. For example, he is an outspoken advocate of the decontrol of oil prices.

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