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Social Choice and Legitimacy: The Possibilities of Impossibility - Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions (Hardback)
  • Social Choice and Legitimacy: The Possibilities of Impossibility - Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions (Hardback)
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Social Choice and Legitimacy: The Possibilities of Impossibility - Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions (Hardback)

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£57.00
Hardback 222 Pages / Published: 31/07/2014
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Governing requires choices, and hence trade-offs between conflicting goals or criteria. This book asserts that legitimate governance requires explanations for such trade-offs and then demonstrates that such explanations can always be found, though not for every possible choice. In so doing, John W. Patty and Elizabeth Maggie Penn use the tools of social choice theory to provide a new and discriminating theory of legitimacy. In contrast with both earlier critics and defenders of social choice theory, Patty and Penn argue that the classic impossibility theorems of Arrow, Gibbard, and Satterthwaite are inescapably relevant to, and indeed justify, democratic institutions. Specifically, these institutions exist to do more than simply make policy - through their procedures and proceedings, these institutions make sense of the trade-offs required when controversial policy decisions must be made.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521191012
Number of pages: 222
Weight: 490 g
Dimensions: 228 x 152 x 16 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
'Patty and Penn's Social Choice and Legitimacy is a brilliant and breathtaking work. Its innovative reconceptualization of social choice theory offers new and powerful responses to long-standing questions about legitimacy in modern governance. Dynamic historical and contemporary examples further clarify how legitimacy is produced. The book is a worthy successor to Amartya Sen's Collective Choice and Social Welfare and to Jurgen Habermas' Between Facts and Norms. It is an important advance and a deeply rewarding read.' Arthur Lupia, Hal R. Varian Collegiate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan
'Patty and Penn breathe new life into social choice theory. While reinterpreting old debates with wisdom and care, they develop a fresh and powerful theory of legitimacy. This book will profit anyone who cares about the difficult choices we make and the grounds on which we make them. Best of all, their main discussion, while rigorous, does not require that readers possess advanced technical skills in order to engage the key arguments.' Michael A. Neblo, Ohio State University
'Social choice theory provides axiomatic logic that there exists no nondictatorial method of collectively ranking alternatives. What then can be said of democratic outcomes? In this compelling book, Patty and Penn use formal logic and case studies to demonstrate how democratic institutions employ procedures that result in policy outcomes that, though not ideal, will be legitimate.' Scott E. Page, Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Political Science, Complex Systems and Economics, University of Michigan
'Patty and Penn offer a brilliant and creative reinterpretation of seminal results in social choice theory. They use this platform to develop an axiomatic theory of legitimacy, rooted in the notion of principled decision making. The book brings much-needed analytical rigor and clarity to central debates in democratic theory. The authors go to great lengths to make the argument accessible to a nontechnical audience and to illustrate the theory with a series of empirical applications. This is a profound and provocative book that should be on the must-read list of democratic and social choice theorists alike.' Georg Vanberg, Duke University

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