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date: 21 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the many appearances, disappearances, and reappearances of axiomatic thought about social choice and elections since the era of ancient Greek democracy. Social choice is linked to the wider public-choice movement because both are theories of agency. Thus, just as the first public-choice theorists include Hobbes, Hume, and Madison, so the first social-choice theorists include Pliny, Llull, and Cusanus. The social-choice theory of agency appears in many strands. The most important of these are binary vs. nonbinary choice; aggregation of judgement vs. aggregation of opinion; and selection of one person vs. selection of many people. The development of social choice required both a public-choice mindset and mathematical skill.

Keywords: social choice, Pliny the Younger, Ramon Llull, Nicholas Cusanus, Condorcet paradox, Jury theorem, Borda count, C. L. Dodgson, E. J. Nanson

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