Although the theory of social choice has roots reaching back to the eighteenth century, major developments in the field have been concentrated in the last three decades. Its prime thrust is the analysis of the concept of rational choice as it extends from the individual to the collectivity. The main results of the theory were formulated in 1951 by Kenneth Arrow in his Impossibility Theorem, a statement to the effect that no democratic voting system can simultaneously satisfy a small set of reasonable sounding democratic conditions (values). Consequently, social choice theorists have continued to propose other conditions which would either substitute for Arrow's or be evaluated on their own merit.
Gideon Doron is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Binghamton.