Jean-Kenneth Arrow's Social Choice Theory

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Introduction The phrase “public interest” is a mysterious one, often used, but never completely understood. It seems to justify political actions as well as controversial policies and serves the common good by aggregating all preferences of the individuals within the society. Mark Twain, an appreciated and highly respected American writer, even realized: “No public interest is anything other or nobler than a massive accumulation of private interests.” (Twain, Smith and Griffin, 210, 275). Kenneth Arrow, undoubtedly one of the most influential thinkers and economists, expressed his very own point of view by introducing the Impossibility Theorem (Arrow, 1983) and therefore contributing to the field Social Choice Theory. In the following paper, the authors are going to argue how we are able to aggregate individuals’ preferences to show a public interest. In the first part, the authors will briefly summarize Arrow’s Theorem, analyze his theoretical assumptions and investigate real-life data from different sources and researchers to find empirical evidence for Arrow’s Theorem and the related Condorcet Paradox. The second part is dedicated to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of the General Will as an alternative concept to express the public interest in various political environments. In this section, the sense of commonality, majority rule and intensity preferences will be discussed from Rousseau’s point of view. Amongst others, Rousseau’s first thoughts of logrolling and
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