Kenneth J. Arrow's pathbreaking "impossibility theorem" was a watershed innovation in the history of welfare economics, voting theory, and collective choice, demonstrating that there is no voting rule that satisfies the four desirable axioms of decisiveness, consensus, nondictatorship, and independence.
In this book Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen explore the implications of Arrow's theorem. Sen considers its ongoing utility, exploring the theorem's value and limitations in relation to recent research on social reasoning, and Maskin discusses how to design a voting rule that gets us closer to the ideal—given the impossibility of achieving the ideal. The volume also contains a contextual introduction by social choice scholar Prasanta K. Pattanaik and commentaries from Joseph E. Stiglitz and Kenneth J. Arrow himself, as well as essays by Maskin, Dasgupta, and Sen outlining the mathematical proof and framework behind their assertions.
About the Author
Eric Maskin is the Adams University Professor at Harvard University. He received the 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics (with L. Hurwicz and R. Myerson) for laying the foundations of mechanism design theory. He has also contributed to game theory, contract theory, social choice theory, political economy, and other areas of economics.
Amartya Sen is the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, and in 1999 he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award. He is also a senior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows; distinguished fellow of All Souls College, Oxford; and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages.
Professor Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge. He is also the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and is currently President of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. His books include Economics: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2017), Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment (OUP, 2004) and An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution(OUP, 1993).
Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University and a member and former chair of Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought. He was the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Economics. He served on President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, and then joined the World Bank as chief economist and senior vice president. His most recent book is The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future.
Table of Contents
Introduction, by Prasanta K. Pattanaik
Part 1: The Lectures
Opening Remarks, by Joseph E. Stiglitz
Arrow and the Impossibility Theorem, by Amartya Sen
The Arrow Impossibility Theorem: Where Do We Go From Here?, by Eric Maskin
Commentary, by Kenneth J. Arrow
Part II: Supplemental Materials
The Informational Basis of Social Choice, by Amartya Sen
On The Robustness of Majority Rule, by Partha Dasgupta and Eric Maskin
The Origins of the Impossibility Theorem, by Kenneth J. Arrow
Notes on Contributors