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January 10, 2013


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The problem with most economics is that there is too little math and too much rhetoric built into the defined terms.

Here is a striking example.

Social Choice: The economic theorems use terms like "dictatorship", or "irrelevance of independent alternatives".

Math Version: Using Ultrafilters to prove Arrow's theorem: monotonic functions.

You can have a serious discussion about whether a non-monotonic choice function might be a good tool to use, but it is harder to have that discussions when the rhetoric is about dictators and irrelevant alternatives.

I see what you're saying, but I think the discussion has to start with dictators and irrelevant alternatives since those terms are relevant to the topic being studied. If non-monotonic choice functions are judged to be an adequate way to model terms like that, then fine, but my fear is that more precision than actually exists in real-world social choice will be implied by the mathematical version, which will leave out details present in actual individual and political choice.

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