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The solution to Arrow's difficulty in social welfare

Thomas Cool
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Thomas Colignatus ()

General Economics and Teaching from EconWPA

Abstract: Arrow's Theorem holds that no constitution can satisfy certain properties. In annex to that theorem, Arrow claims that those properties are reasonable and morally desirable. In his view there thus is the difficulty that people desire a constitution that cannot exist. While the Theorem stands as a mathematical result, the additional claims concern other domains, i.e. the domains of reasonableness and morality. It are these claims that have caused much confusion in the literature. It is shown here that the claims are unwarranted, since inconsistent properties are neither reasonable nor morally desirable. It is shown too that Arrow's axiom of the Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives is not realistic, and thus unattractive. We show the existence of some constitutions that are consistent and might be optimal to many. The major error made by Arrow and his students is to mix up the context of scientific discovery and learning with the context of application to the real world by educated people.

JEL-codes: A (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-env, nep-pke and nep-pub
Date: 1997-07-02, Revised 1997-09-04
Note: 13 pages Word for Windows 6.0, 50 KB, zipped 18 KB
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