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On Quine on Arrow

Salles, Maurice (2017) On Quine on Arrow. Social Choice and Welfare, 48 (4). pp. 877-886. ISSN 0176-1714

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s00355-017-1042-z


This paper describes an unknown episode in the development of the theory of social choice. In the Summer 1949, while at RAND, Quine worked on Arrow’s (im)possibility theorem. This work was eventually published as a paper on (applied) set theory totally disconnected from social choice. The working paper directly linked to Arrow’s work was never published. I alluded to this (then unwritten) paper in a number of presentations I made on ‘Logic and Social Choice’ in Turku, Bucharest, Boston, Strasbourg and Munich, between October 2013 and January 2015. It was eventually first presented during a conference at Queen Mary, University of London, 19–20 June 2015, on ‘Social Welfare, Justice and Distribution: Celebrating John Roemer’s Contributions to Economics, Political Philosophy and Political Science’, organized by Roberto Veneziani and Juan Moreno-Ternero. I am grateful to the participants for interesting reactions and comments, in particular Richard Arneson, Jon Elster, Marc Fleurbaey, Klaus Nehring and Gil Skillman. Jon Elster contacted Dagfinn Føllesdal, a well-known philosopher and a pre-eminent Quine scholar, who kindly responded to some queries. A more developed version was presented in Aix-en-Provence during the International Conference on Economic Philosophy and in Lund during the meeting of the Society for Social Choice and Welfare in June 2016. Comments of participants to these two events revealed to be very helpful, among which comments by Gilles Campagnolo, Christian List and John Weymark. While in Lund, I also greatly benefitted from conversations with Adrian Miroiu. Finally, I am very grateful to an Associate Editor of this journal for excellent suggestions and for detecting some very annoying slips.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
JEL classification: C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods > C7 - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2017 15:10
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:31

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