Social Choice And Individual Values Bibtex Bibliography



The aim of this paper is to propose a conceptual reconstruction of Sen’s conception of individual judgments, through a back-and-forth analysis between his democratic theory of justice and social choice theory. Firstly, while this is never explicitly presented in Sen’s work, we highlight the importance of the three following elements in the characterization of judgments: position, objectivity and the sense of otherness. Once combined, these three conditions are necessary in order to characterize positional judgments, which, unlike individual preferences, are relevant for justice issues. Secondly, we identify two forces which, in Sen’s view, drive the evolution of such judgments: a widened informational basis and sentiments. This leads us to conclude that a relevant approach to communication, i.e., one which acknowledges the scope of positional judgments and the forces at the source of their evolution, is a third condition for a fruitful transformation of judgments. This last point constitutes, according to us, a missing element in Sen’s idea of justice.

Suggested Citation

  • Muriel Gilardone & Antoinette Baujard, 2013. "Individual judgments and social choice in Sen's idea of justice and democracy," Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS 2013-03-ccr, Condorcet Center for political Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:tut:cccrwp:2013-03-ccr

    • Muriel Gilardone

      (Normandie Université, UCBN, CREM (UMR CNRS 6211), France)

    • Antoinette Baujard

      (Université de Lyon, UJM, GATE L-SE (UMR CNRS 5824), France)


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    Kenneth Arrow, an American economist, is known for his contributions to mathematical economics. Educated at City College of New York and Columbia University, he has taught at Stanford and Harvard universities. He was awarded the Nobel Prize (jointly with Sir John Richard Hicks) for his work in welfare economics and the theory of social choice. The possibility of a theory of social choice, or collective choice based on the preferences of individuals has intrigued economists for some time. Arrow's Ph.D. thesis, published as Social Choice and Individual Values (1951), was the seminal work in the field of social choice theory and showed the impossibility of deriving efficient group outcomes based on the aggregate of rational individual preferences. In a later book, Social Choice and Multicriterion Decision-Making (1986), which was coauthored with Herve Raynaud, Arrow dealt with additional decision criteria and alternatives in a search for efficient group outcomes. Despite the importance of these two works, the general reader may find them somewhat difficult and abstruse. The work of most general equilibrium economists like Arrow is seldom well known outside the economics profession. Even so, Arrow's range of interests extends far beyond the straightforward mathematical treatment of economics. For example, he is an outspoken advocate of the decontrol of oil prices.


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