It is one of the earliest written constitutions. It is in Phaistos (Festo) in Southern Crete. It was written during the Minoan civilisation. It is written in Linear A (a syllabary used extensively up to 1420 BC). The precise date of its construction is not known but it was around the 14 th century BC.
What does this Course do? Social Choice –the name captures all …and nothing. It is about choice in society. How Societies should choose?. How Societies could choose?. How Societies can choose?. How Societies do choose?. Which parts come from Political Science, Philosopy and Ethics... What economics can contribute...
What does this course cover? The course is interdisciplinary. It covers the major themes of political science, economics, political economy, law, social justice and distributive justice. In particular, we study systems of social transfers and how societies implement social choice. We study the economic concept of preferences and the links between social preferences and political decisions. The interdisciplinary approach adopted in this course helps us to address the problem of societies’ futures after the recent crisis, when old principles are coming under increasing scrutiny.
The Structure of the Course There are two main parts of the course, though there is a natural transition from the first to the second. The first part of the course is based mainly on economics and is concerned with individual preferences, Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem, weakening Arrow, preferences over principles, preferences with measurable utilities, strategic decision making and game theory. The second part of the course is based mainly on philosophy and political science and is concerned with Public goods, collective action, the different levels of decisions, decision-making bodies. and Social Contract theories. We will also talk about Voting Systems – which are societies’ way of aggregating individual preferences into some kind of social preference. We will study particular Constitutions, including those of the US, France and Italy, and we will also study unwritten Constitutions, like that of the United Kingdom.
Teaching Methods The course has various different kinds of teaching methods. Conventional lectures. Interactive discussion via debates (for example, a Cambridge Union style debate on the motion that “This House Believes that Italy should adopt the US Constitution”). The sharing of different personal experiences of students from around the world. A Film. The discussion of practical issues. The experience of experiments to shed light on social choice. The possibility of assessment by Group Projects in which self-created and self-policed groups write a 25-page project addressed to an issue agreed with the docenti. This enables students to experience teamwork.
Conclusion This course is concerned with crucial issues of social choice. It is centred on the question of the aggregation of individual preferences into some kind of social choice function. Problems crucially arise because people are different. Perhaps the whole exercise is impossible (as Arrow’s Impossibility Theory would have us believe). Nevertheless, as we will show, results are possible. The course is interdisciplinary, exciting, interactive and taught by a Political Scientist and an Economist. We will have lots of fun and learn a lot!