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Social choice theory, game theory, and positive political theory

Austen-Smith, David and Banks, Jeffrey S. (1998) Social choice theory, game theory, and positive political theory. Annual Review of Political Science, 1 . pp. 259-287. ISSN 1094-2939. doi:10.1146/annurev.polisci.1.1.259.

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We consider the relationships between the collective preference and non-cooperative game theory approaches to positive political theory. In particular, we show that an apparently decisive difference between the two approachesthat in sufficiently complex environments (e.g. high-dimensional choice spaces) direct preference aggregation models are incapable of generating any prediction at all, whereas non-cooperative game-theoretic models almost always generate predictionis indeed only an apparent difference. More generally, we argue that when modeling collective decisions there is a fundamental tension between insuring existence of well-defined predictions, a criterion of minimal democracy, and general applicability to complex environments; while any two of the three are compatible under either approach, neither collective preference nor non-cooperative game theory can support models that simultaneously satisfy all three desiderata.

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Additional Information:© 1998 by Annual Reviews. This paper was completed while the second author was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by the National Science Foundation under Grant SBR-9601236.
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Subject Keywords:core existence, Nash equilibrium, minimal democracy
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Official Citation:Social choice theory, game theory, and positive political theory. David Austen-Smith Jeffrey S. Banks. Annual Review of Political Science 1998 1:1, 259-287; doi: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.1.1.259
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:690
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Deposited On:14 Sep 2005
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 19:04

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