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Decisions and Elections
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  • 16 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 254 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.358 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 658.4/03
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: HB846.8 .S25 2001
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Social choice
    • Decision making
    • Elections
    • Arrow, Kenneth Joseph,--1921-
    • Sen, Amartya Kumar

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521004046 | ISBN-10: 0521004047)

It is not uncommon to be frustrated by the outcome of an election or a decision in voting, law, economics, engineering, and other fields. Does this 'bad' result reflect poor data or poorly informed voters? Or does the disturbing conclusion reflect the choice of the decision/election procedure? Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow's famed theorem has been interpreted to mean 'no decision procedure is without flaws'. Similarly, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen dashes hope for individual liberties by showing their incompatibility with societal needs. This highly accessible book offers a new, different interpretation and resolution of Arrow's and Sen's theorems. Using simple mathematics, it shows that these negative conclusions arise because, in each case, some of their assumptions negate other crucial assumptions. Once this is understood, not only do the conclusions become expected, but a wide class of other phenomena can also be anticipated.

• Completely accessible presentation and reinterpretation for undergraduates of decision-making in the social sciences and sciences • Author is celebrated mathematical economist • Controversial thesis will intrigue/attract professionals as well


1. Do we get what we expect; 2. Arrow's theorem; 3. Explanations and examples; 4. What else can go wrong?; 5. More perversities; 6. A search for resolutions; 7. From Sen to prisoners and prostitution; 8. Glossary, notes, and technical talk.

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