Kenneth Arrow's pathbreaking "impossibility theorem" was a watershed 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, Amartya Sen and Eric Maskin 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, while Maskin discusses how to design a voting rule that gets us closer to the ideal -- given that achieving the ideal is impossible. The volume also contains a contextual introduction by social choice scholar Prasanta K. Pattanaik and commentaries from Joseph E. Stiglitz and Kenneth Arrow himself, as well as essays by Sen and Maskin outlining the mathematical proof and framework behind their assertions.
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. He is also a senior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, distinguished fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages. Eric Maskin is an 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. He has also made contributions to game theory, contract theory, social choice theory, political economy, and other areas of economics.