So the scenario is as follows: there are 3 agents and 4 alternatives, $a,b,c,$ and $d$. Society's ranking of the 4 alternatives is such that

the highest-ranked alternative is agent 1's highest-ranked alternative,

The alternative that agent 2 ranks highest among the three remaining alternatives is ranked second highest by society

The alternative that agent 3 ranks highest among the two remaining alternatives is ranked third highest by society.

Society ranks the 4th alternative lowest.

So my interpretation of the ranking would look something like this:

enter image description here

Which of Arrow's four desirable properties is violated?

I'm guessing that the "Unanimity" preference would be violated, because agent 2 prefers $b$ over $c$, but this is not reflected in society's ranking?

The four desired properties I am referring to are:

1/ Complete and transitive preferences

2/ Respect unanimity

3/ Non-dictatorial outcomes

4/ Independence of irrelevant alternatives

  • $\begingroup$ What happens if they all rank $a$ highest? $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ Can you specify which four properties you're considering? $\endgroup$
    – Herr K.
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ @HerrK. I've now added these four properties to my question $\endgroup$
    – tsp216
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ @denesp according to the setup, only agent 1 ranks $a$ highest; other agents highest rankings are as shown in the table. No additional information was said about agents 1,2, and 3's rankings for their 2nd to 4th preferences. $\endgroup$
    – tsp216
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 0:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think this kind of answers your question. These properties have to hold over universal domain. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 4:30

1 Answer 1


Note that an alternative being highest-ranked by an agent involves comparisons with all other alternatives, which raises doubts that your method satisfies independence of irrelevant alternatives. Indeed, it does not. Independence off irrelevant alternatives is actually the only property that is violated.

Here are two profiles, only the preferences of the first two agents matter in them, so I will not specify the preferences of the other agents. I only assume the other agents preferences are the same in both profiles.

Agent 1, Profile $1$: $a\succ b\succ c\succ d$

Agent 2, Profile $1$: $b\succ a\succ c\succ d$

In Profile 1, the social ranking of $a$ and $b$ is $a\succ b$.

Agent 1, Profile $2$: $c\succ a\succ b\succ d$

Agent 2, Profile $2$: $b\succ a\succ c\succ d$

In Profile 2, the social ranking of $a$ and $b$ is $b\succ a$.

Since the relative ranking of $a$ and $b$ is the same in both profiles, independence of irrelevant alternatives is violated.

  • $\begingroup$ Is there a typo in your Agent 1, Profile 2? Why are there 5 rankings, with $a$ appearing twice? $\endgroup$
    – tsp216
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ @user98937 You are right; I corrected the typo. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 12:32

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