Impossibility theorem (1966)

Formulated by American economist Kenneth Arrow (1921- ), impossibility theorem asserts that it is impossible to devise a constitution or voting system which offers more than two reasonable choices to the individual, or that will guarantee to produce a constant set of preferences for a group which correspond to the preferences of the individuals making up that group.

Arrow proposed that no system could be both rational and egalitarian, and that even in a simple voting system the paradox of voting will arise.

K J Arrow, Social Choice and Individual Values (New York, 1966);
Robert Abrams, Foundations of Political AnalysisNew York, 1979)

Impossibility theorem could refer to:

  • Proof of impossibility, a negative proof of a theory
  • Arrow’s impossibility theorem in welfare economics

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