Positive Political Theory I

Collective Preference
David Austen-Smith and Jeffrey S. Banks
A definitive, comprehensive, and analytically sophisticated treatment of the theory of collective preference


Positive Political Theory I is concerned with the formal theory of preference aggregation for collective choice. The theory is developed as generally as possible, covering classes of aggregation methods that include such well-known examples as majority and unanimity rule and focusing in particular on the extent to which any aggregation method is assured to yield a set of "best" alternatives. The book is intended both as a contribution to the theory of collective choice and a pedagogic tool.

Austen-Smith and Banks have made the exposition both rigorous and accessible to people with some technical background (e.g., a course in multivariate calculus). The intended readership ranges from more technically-oriented graduate students and specialists to those students in economics and political science interested less in the technical aspects of the results than in the depth, scope, and importance of the theoretical advances in positive political theory.

David Austen-Smith is Earl Dean Howard Distinguished Professor of Political Economy and Professor of Political Science and Economics at Northwestern University.

Jeffrey S. Banks is Professor of Political Science, California Institute of Technology.

Praise / Awards

  • "This is a stunning book. Austen-Smith and Banks have a deep understanding of the material, and their text gives a powerfully unified and coherent perspective on a vast literature. The exposition is clear-eyed and efficient but never humdrum. Even those familiar with the subject will find trenchant remarks and fresh insights every few pages. Anyone with an interest in contemporary liberal democratic theory will want this book on the shelf."
    —Christopher Achen, University of Michigan
  • "Austen-Smith and Banks provide a crisp, state-of-the-art guide to the core results of social choice theory. They lay bare the conceptual foundations of the study of collective preferences, linking key results to both practical and theoretical issues in the study of politics. In addition to providing the best currently available review of social choice theory's implications for the study of politics, Positive Political Theory I also contains interesting reflections on the relationship between social choice and game theory"
    —Gary Cox, University of California, San Diego
  • ". . . an extremely lucid and self-contained presentation. It collects together every important result of the fifty years of research in this field, since Kenneth Arrow's book in 1951."
    —Norman Schofield, Washington University, American Political Science Review, June 2001
  • "All too rarely do books live up to the praise found in their jacket blurbs. This book is an exception. . . . With the prerequisite of some minimal tools—calculus, a little set theory, a feeling for Edgeworth-box style analyses—and a willlingness to follow extended mathematical arguments, the reader is guided from very basic definitions concerning individual preferences to complex discussions of the genericity of empty cores in spatial settings."
    —Robert Grafstein, University of Georgia, Public Choice, 102 (2000)

Product Details

  • 224 pages.
  • 42 drawings, 6 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02246-5

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

Add to Cart
  • $31.95 U.S.

  • Kindle

Add to Cart

Choosing any of the above format options will take you to the appropriate e-retailer to complete your purchase. Pricing may vary by individual e-retailer. Please see e-retailer site for purchasing information.

For more information about our Digital Products, including reading systems and accessible formats, visit our Digital Products page.

Related Products

Add to Cart
  • $30.95 U.S.