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On the Possibility of Democracy and Rational Collective Choice

  • Hillinger, Claude

The paper challenges the 'orthodox doctrine' of collective choice theory according to which Arrow’s 'general possibility theorem' precludes rational decision procedures generally and implies that in particular all voting procedures must be flawed. I point out that all voting procedures are cardinal and that Arrow’s result, based on preference orderings cannot apply to them. All voting procedures that have been proposed, with the exception of approval voting, involve restrictions on voters expressions of their preferences. These restrictions, not any general impossibility, are the cause of various well known pathologies. In the class of unrestricted voting procedures I favor 'evaluative voting' under which a voter can vote for or against any alternative, or abstain. I give a historical/conceptual analysis of the origins of theorists’ aversion to cardinal analysis in collective choice and voting theories.

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File URL: http://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/429/1/DEMOCRACY.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 429.

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Date of creation: Oct 2004
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Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:429
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  1. Alexander Tabarrok & Lee Spector, 1999. "Would the Borda Count Have Avoided the Civil War?," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 11(2), pages 261-288, April.
  2. Claude Hillinger, 2001. "Money Metric, Consumer Surplus and Welfare Measurement," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 2(2), pages 177-193, 05.
  3. Jonathan Levin & Barry Nalebuff, 1995. "An Introduction to Vote-Counting Schemes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
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