The Repugnant Conclusion served an important purpose in catalyzing and inspiring the pioneering stage of population ethics research. We believe, however, that the Repugnant Conclusion now receives too much focus. Avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion should no longer be the central goal driving population ethics research, despite its importance to the fundamental accomplishments of the existing literature.
We examine a general class of variable-value population principles. Our particular focus is on the extent to which such principles can avoid the repugnant and sadistic conclusions. We show that if a mild limit property is imposed, avoidance of the repugnant conclusion implies the sadistic conclusion. This result generalizes earlier observations by showing that they apply to a substantially larger class of principles. Our second theorem states that, under the limit property, the axiom of mere addition also conflicts with avoidance (...) of the repugnant conclusion. This result is a consequence of a similar observation that appears in the earlier literature. (shrink)
This article investigates the relationship among the weak Pareto principle, the strong Pareto principle, and positive responsiveness in the context of voting. First, it is shown that under a mild domain condition, if an anonymous and neutral collective choice rule (CCR) is complete and transitive, then the weak Pareto principle and the strong Pareto principle are equivalent. Next, it is shown that under another mild domain condition, if a neutral CCR is transitive, then the strong Pareto principle and positive responsiveness (...) are equivalent. By applying these results, we obtain a new characterization of the method of majority decision. (shrink)
This paper aims to reexamine the axiom of the independence of irrelevant alternatives in the theory of social choice. A generalized notion of independence is introduced to clarify an informational requirement of binary independence which is usually imposed in the Arrovian framework. We characterize the implication of binary independence.
On March 16, 2020, the Director-General of the World Health Organization said: “We have a simple message to all countries—test, test, test.” This seems like sound advice, but what if limiting the number of tests has a positive effect on infection control? Although this may rarely be the case, the possibility raises an important ethical question that is closely related to a central tension between deontological and consequentialist approaches to ethics. In this paper, we first argue that early during the (...) COVID-19 pandemic, Japan offers an interesting case because it experienced few deaths due to COVID while the number of tests was limited, suggesting that there may be cases in which low testing contributes to infection control indeed. After that, we examine deontological constraints on such a “low-testing” policy, focusing on issues related to a supposed “right to know,” which is a central issue in medical ethics in general. (shrink)
This paper offers a new insight on the Condorcet Jury Theorem (CJT) in the theory of epistemic democracy. This theorem states that democratic decision-making leads us to correct outcomes under certain assumptions. One key assumption is the ‘independence condition’, which requires that voters form their beliefs independently when they vote. This paper examines the role of an opinion leader as an informational source, which potentially violates independence. We demonstrate that voters’ beliefs may be correlated in the presence of the leader, (...) and that the CJT can fail if the leader’s opinions are reliable. This leads us to the following paradoxical observation: for epistemic democracy, good leaders may be bad, while bad leaders may be good. (shrink)
This paper examines social choice theory with the strong Pareto principle. The notion of conditional decisiveness is introduced to clarify the underlying power structure behind strongly Paretian aggregation rules satisfying binary independence. We discuss the various degrees of social rationality: transitivity, semi-transitivity, the interval-order property, quasi-transitivity, and acyclicity.
In this study, we propose a new direction of research on the axiomatic analysis of approval voting, which is a common democratic decision method. Its novelty is to examine an infinite population setting, which includes an application to intergenerational problems. In particular, we assume that the set of the population is countably infinite. We provide several extensions of the method of approval voting for this setting. As our main result, axiomatic characterizations of the extensions are offered by revealing a direct (...) link between approval voting and the Borda rule. The characterized methods are natural extensions of the standard approval voting method for the finite-population case and are regarded as minimum requirements for other possible infinite-population extensions, which are reasonably democratic. (shrink)
Since Condorcet discovered the voting paradox in the simple majority rule, many scholars have tried to investigate conditions that yield “social-preference cycles”. The paradox can be extended to two main approaches. On the one hand, Kenneth Arrow developed a general framework of social choice theory; on the other hand, direct generalizations of the paradox were offered. The motivation and surface meaning of the two approaches are different, as are the assumed background conditions. In this paper, we investigate the relationship between (...) the two approaches by taking a close look at two works, Ferejohn and Fishburn and Schwartz. (shrink)
This paper examines collective decision-making with an infinite-time horizon setting. First, we establish a result on the collection of decisive sets: if there are at least four alternatives and Arrow’s axioms are satisfied on the selfish domain, then the collection of decisive sets forms an ultrafilter. Second, we impose generalized versions of stationarity axiom for social preferences, which are substantially weaker than the standard version. We show that if any of our generalized versions are satisfied in addition to Arrow’s axioms, (...) then some generation is dictatorial. Moreover, we specify a very weak stationarity axiom that guarantees a possibility result. (shrink)
This study investigates Suzumura consistency as a condition for the rationality of social preferences. A preference is said to be Suzumura-consistent when all preference cycles include only indifference relations. This condition is equivalent to transitivity in the presence of completeness, but, in general, it is substantially weaker than transitivity when preference is incomplete. Notably, Suzumura consistency is especially significant for a preference because it is necessary and sufficient for the existence of an ordering (transitive and complete preference) that is compatible (...) with the original preference. This coherency property can be regarded as a requirement for potential rationality. In this study, we examine the implications of shifting from actual rationality to potential rationality in collective decision-making. We introduce the concept of an alternative-dependent coherent collection in order to obtain a representation of a class of Suzumura-consistent collective choice rules that satisfy the axioms imposed in Arrow’s impossibility theorem. This demonstrates that the power structure to determine social choice can be alternative-dependent. (shrink)