Arrow’s impossibility theorem and the national security state

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (4):734-743 (2005)
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This paper critically engages Philip Mirowki's essay, "The scientific dimensions of social knowledge and their distant echoes in 20th-century American philosophy of science." It argues that although the cold war context of anti-democratic elitism best suited for making decisions about engaging in nuclear war may seem to be politically and ideologically motivated, in fact we need to carefully consider the arguments underlying the new rational choice based political philosophies of the post-WWII era typified by Arrow's impossibility theorem. A distrust of democratic decision-making principles may be developed by social scientists whose leanings may be toward the left or right side of the spectrum of political practices.

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S. M. Amadae
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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