Bojan Todosijević

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Institut društvenih nauka, Beograd.


The Social Choice Theory: Can it be Considered a Complete Political Theory?

Social choice theory (SCT) deals with the aggregation of individual preferences in order to arrive at social preference orders, i.e. at the 'general will'. The present paper examines whether SCT could be regarded as a complete political theory. SCT is evaluated against seven criteria, proposed by Martha Nussbaum, that a political theory needs to fulfill in order to be regarded a complete political theory. These criteria are: understanding of material need; procedural justice; liberty and its worth; racial, ethnic and religious differences; gender and family; international relations; and moral psychology. The analysis showed that SCT is strong at problems of procedural justification, distributive justice and some problems of ethics. It is weaker on the issues of moral psychology, and justice between nations. It is neglectful concerning the issues of racial, ethnic and religious inequality, and issues of gender and family. The paper concludes that the SCT can have an important place within more comprehensive political theories, but cannot claim itself to be a complete political theory.