2nd Semester 2008/09: Modern Classics in Social Choice Theory
- Social choice theory, as the political scientist William H. Riker puts it, is "the description and the analysis of the way that the preferences of individual members of a group are amalgamated into a decision of the group as a whole".
The problem of aggregating individual preferences into a collective choice was already made explicit by Condorcet's voting paradox in the 18th century, but it is the seminal work of Arrow of 1950 that is usually considered the starting point of modern reflection on collective choice. Arrow investigated the problem of aggregation in mathematical terms and stated the normative conditions on the aggregation rule by means of axiomatic definitions. The formal concepts introduced by Arrow opened up a research line which helped to refine the notion of fairness or efficiency of an aggregation procedure, stating results which deeply influenced political theory and economics: for instance, the characterisation of majority voting, the condition on manipulability of a voting procedure, or the conditions for avoiding Condorcet cycles in majority voting. Recently, the problems raised by social choice theory have been also investigated from the point of view of logic and computation (in computational social choice).
The aim of this course is to get familiar with some of the most important contributions to social choice theory in the second part of the 20th century. We will do this by reading and discussing the original articles, in order to give students a flavour of the framework in which those results were initially formulated.
- The project is particularly suitable for those who have already taken a relevant course, such as Computational Social Choice or Cooperative Games, but open to all interested students.
- Each student will present two of the selected articles and write a short essay at the end of the course. Participation in the discussions will form part of the assessment.
- A tentative list of the articles we want to cover can be found on the course website. This list will updated once we know how many participants there will be.