Cover image for Social choice and multicriterion decision-making
Social choice and multicriterion decision-making
Arrow, Kenneth J. (Kenneth Joseph), 1921-2017
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [1986]

Physical Description:
vii, 127 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :

On Order



This study comes to grips with the industrial outranking problem, one of the major outstanding problems of current operations research and managerial decision-making. The problem, simply stated, is this: given a large but finite set of criteria, and a large but finite number of alternatives, how can the criteria be ranked in priority order, and how should the alternatives be ranked from best to worst consistent with the ordering of criteria that may be conflicting or incommensurable? There have been many proposed solutions to the problem. Numerous empirical recipes -- among them the majority method -- have been submitted, based in large part on the subjective judgments and biases of various observers. The authors argue that the axiomatic formulation offers the surest path to a solution that is as objective as possible, minimally distorted by the unwitting imposition of personal values. They then develop a system of consistent and appealing axioms, confront the paradoxes that put axiomatic systems in general at risk, and demonstrate the applicability of their system to realistic industrial outranking problems. Even within the axiomatic framework, however, some leeway remains for subjective choice and conscious value decisions. One ad hoc criterion of choice the authors selected was that their method should be neither so flexible and open that personal biases might easily slip in, nor so artificially rigid that the play of intuition and creativity was systematically excluded. The book also takes a hard look at the theoretical and practical defects of the majority method, the favored proposed solution, and at such associated issues as committee decision techniques, strategic majority voting; and restriction conditions.

Author Notes

Kenneth Joseph Arrow was born in New York City on August 23, 1921. He received a bachelor's degree in social science and in mathematics from City College. He did his graduate work at Columbia University. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He taught at Harvard University from 1968 to 1979 and at Stanford University until retiring in 1991.

He was an economist who was known for his contributions to mathematical economics. He wrote numerous books including Social Choice and Individual Values and Social Choice and Multicriterion Decision-Making written with Herve Raynaud. Arrow and John R. Hicks received the 1972 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for their work in welfare economics and the theory of social choice. In 2004, Arrow received the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest scientific honor. He died on February 21, 2017 at the age of 95.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 The Problemp. 7
2 The Paradoxesp. 17
II Introduction to Part IIp. 31
3 A First Set of Conditions for the Transitivity of Majority Rulep. 33
4 More Conditions with Interpretationp. 47
5 Paradoxical Results from lnada's Conditions for Majority Rulep. 59
6 How Restrictive Actually Are the Value Restriction Conditions?p. 69
Conclusion of Part IIp. 77
III Introduction to Part IIIp. 81
7 Outranking Axiomsp. 83
8 Outranking Methodsp. 101
Annex 1 A Short Presentation of Electre Ip. 111
Annex 2 How to Recognize, If Any Exists, the Reference Orders According to Which a Given Profile Could Be Blackian?p. 113
Referencesp. 119
Indexp. 125