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A note on introducing a "zeroline" of welfare as an escape route from Arrow's theorem

List, Christian (2001) A note on introducing a "zeroline" of welfare as an escape route from Arrow's theorem. Pacific Economic Review, 6 (2). pp. 223-238. ISSN 1468-0106

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1468-0106.00129


Since Sen's insightful analysis of Arrow's Impossibility Theorem (Sen, 1970/1979), Arrow's theorem is often interpreted as a consequence of the exclusion of interpersonal information from Arrow's framework. Interpersonal comparability of either welfare levels or welfare units is known to be sufficient for circumventing Arrow's impossibility result (e.g. Sen, 1970/1979, 1982; Roberts, 1980; d'Aspremont, 1985). But it is less well known whether one of these types of comparability is also necessary or whether Arrow's conditions can already be satisfied in much narrower informational frameworks. This note explores such a framework: the assumption of (ONC+0), ordinal measurability of welfare with the additional measurability of a 'zero-line', is shown to point towards new, albeit limited, escape-routes from Arrow's theorem. Some existence and classification results are established, using the condition that social orderings be transitive as well as the condition that social orderings be quasi-transitive.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an Article published in Pacific Economic Review 6 (2), 223-238 © 2001 Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL (<>) of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: Government
Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2006
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 00:16

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