The work and life of Robin Farquharson
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The first phase in the history of modern social choice theory comprised two fundamental pieces of work: first, the articles on the theory of voting by Duncan Black, published in 1948 and 1949, and incorporated into a more systematic treatment in his book The Theory of Committees and Elections of 1958; and, secondly, the celebrated short book Social Choice and Individual Values of 1951 by Kenneth Arrow, of whose publications this conference is, a little belatedly, celebrating the 50th anniversary. Duncan Black’s work was of course strictly confined to the theory of voting. If it be taken as essential to social choice theory that it generalises the theory of voting to cover all circumstances in which the preferences of many individuals as between several possible outcomes are by some means or other aggregated into a resultant outcome, or social decision, then Arrow’s treatise was the founding text of modern social choice theory as such.
The second phase in the history of modern social...