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20131107 Social choice and Individual


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This is a classic work of social science written in 1950s and carrying indelible mark of this time – time of triumph of hard science, math and engineering. It investigates the nature of choice in a group or society, how it is done and what is normally comes out of it. The unusual part of this is an attempt and quite successful to apply rules of mathematical logic with its language of theorems and equations to society and individuals.

Here a sample of how it looks like in my translation from Math to English:

Axiom I: Any two conditions could be either indifferent or one more preferable then another.
Axiom II: IF condition X preferable to Y and Y preferable to Z, THEN X preferable to Z

After dealing in details with preference and choice it goes into definition and discussion of Social Welfare Function. It is to a significant extent reverberates with Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy – something that I believe is completely meaningless because humanity and society does not exists except as abstraction. The reality is that it all consists of individuals and calculation of total satisfaction or happiness could not possibly be done. In short if there are 10 people and they all are hungry, to kill and make dinner for 9 people out of one could not possibly be good even if as result we have 9 people who are not hungry any more at the expense of one who is not alive any more. My point is that social welfare is meaningless and only individual welfare makes sense. However it was interesting to look at this work.

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