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Social Choice Theory

  • David Austen-Smith
  • Jeffrey S. Banks

In this paper, we consider relationships between the collective preference and the non-cooperative game-theoretic approaches to positive political theory. In particular, we show that an apparently decisive difference between the two approaches - that in sufficiently complex environments (e.g. high dimensional choice spaces) direct preference aggregation models are incapable of generating any prediction at all, whereas non-cooperative game-theoretic models almost always generate predictions - is indeed only an apparent difference. More generally, we argue that there is a fundamental tension when modeling collective decisions between insuring existence of well-defined predictions, a criterion of minimal democracy and general applicability to complex environments: while any two of the three are compatible under either approach, neither collective preference nor non-cooperative game theory can support models that simultaneously satisfy all three desiderata.

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File URL: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/papers/1196.pdf
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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1196.

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Date of creation: Oct 1997
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1196
Contact details of provider: Postal: Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science, Northwestern University, 580 Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-2014
Phone: 847/491-3527
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Web page: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/
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  1. Daniel Diermeier & Timothy J. Feddersen, 1996. "Disciplined Coalitions and Redistribution: The Effect of the Vote of Confidence Procedure on Legislative Bargaining," Discussion Papers 1171, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Grandmont Jean-michel, 1983. "On endogenous competitive business cycles," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 8316, CEPREMAP.
  3. Roger B. Myerson, 1996. "Economic Analysis of Political Institutions: An Introduction," Discussion Papers 1155, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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