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On the Possibility of Democracy and Rational Collective Choice

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  • Hillinger, Claude

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hillinger, Claude, 2004. "On the Possibility of Democracy and Rational Collective Choice," Discussion Papers in Economics 429, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:429
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    File URL: https://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/429/1/DEMOCRACY.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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, May.
    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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    Cited by:

    1. Antoinette Baujard, 2015. "How voters use grade scales in evaluative voting," Post-Print halshs-01211532, HAL.
    2. Antoinette Baujard & Frédéric Gavrel & Herrade Igersheim & Jean-François Laslier & Isabelle Lebon, 2013. "Who’s Favored by Evaluative Voting ? An Experiment Conducted During the 2012 French Presidential Election," Working Papers of BETA 2013-08, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    3. Claude Hillinger, 2005. "The Case for Utilitarian Voting," Homo Oeconomicus, Institute of SocioEconomics, vol. 23, pages 295-321.
    4. Antoinette Baujard & Herrade Igersheim, 2007. "Expérimentation du vote par note et du vote par approbation lors de l'élection présidentielle française du 22 avril 2007," Post-Print halshs-00337290, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Arrow's paradox ; approval voting ; cardinal collective choice ; instant runoff voting ; voting paradoxes;

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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