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Sen, however, generalizes past things like the standard economic default to what people actually can and want to do with their lives. That seems like a better way to go.

Sen was active in the discussion that led to Arrow's dissertation and his 1951 book, Social Choice and Individual Values. Part of that was social choice theory, which "assumes that we need to extract a preference order on a given set of options". This has been the foundation on which much of welfare economics and development economics has been built, by Sen and others.

It is, perhaps, not accidental that the most characteristic feature of contemporary US political life has come to be the highly constrained choices with which the electorate is presented and the ease with which those constraints has come to enable the resulting process to serve the interests of the dominant players. The rest of social choice theory seems less relevant, given the prevalence of that effect.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Oct 4th, 2010 at 12:29:39 PM EST
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