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The Arrow Impossibility Theorem

author Author(s): Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen   
publisher Publisher: Columbia University Press

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.

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. 

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. 


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