‘The People’ Is Not a Sentient Creature

by Don Boudreaux on December 31, 2019

in Myths and Fallacies, Virginia Political Economy

In my latest column for AIER, I use the late Kenneth Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem to warn against interpreting the outcome of any election as being the will of the people. A slice:

It’s fair to suspect that I’m making too big a deal about not calling the outcome of any election “the will of the people.” But I insist. To talk of a “will of the people” is to imply the existence of a creature who is greater than each of the individuals who comprise ‘the people’ – a creature to which each individual’s will and well-being are subservient. It’s the tiniest of steps from a belief in such a creature to the conviction that no individual is an end in himself or herself but is, instead, merely a means to serve this creature. And from this false belief in such a higher-order creature, all manner of tyranny has ensued.

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