Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 218–228 | Cite as

Arrow's Theorem and Engineering Design Decision Making

  • Michael J. Scott
  • Erik K. Antonsson
Original Article


This article establishes that Arrow”s General Possibility Theorem has only indirect application to engineering design. Arrow”s Theorem states that there can be no consistent, equitable method for social choice. Many engineering design decisions are based on the aggregation of preferences. The foundation of many engineering decision methods is the explicit comparison of degrees of preference, a comparison that is not available in the social choice problem. This explicit comparison of preference levels is coupled with the choice of an aggregation method, and some forms of aggregation may be inadequate or inappropriate in engineering design.

Key words:Design decision-making – Engineering design – Multi-criteria analysis 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Scott
    • 1
  • Erik K. Antonsson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USAUS
  2. 2.Engineering Design Research Laboratory, Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USAUS

Personalised recommendations