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An interview with Michael Dummett: from analytical philosophy to voting analysis and beyond

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Social choice and welfare economics are subjects at the frontier of many disciplines. Even if economics played the major role in their development, sociology, psychology and, principally, political science, mathematics and philosophy have been central for the manifold inventiveness of the employed methods and for the diversity of the studied topics. This phenomenon can be compared with game theory, a subject which has, of course, many connections with social choice and welfare. This fact is reflected by the disciplinary origins of the contributors to the subject and, as an anecdote, by the disciplinary origins of the board of editors of this journal. Philosophers are expected to contribute mainly to the study of social justice and related ethical questions. But there is a tradition among logicians for studying voting theory. A famous example is C. L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), even though the complete works of Dodgson on voting occupy only a few pages. A major recent example is Michael Dummett. Michael Dummett is famous among social choice theorists for his joint paper with Robin Farquharson published in Econometrica in 1961. Later he wrote two important books on voting (Dummett (1984, 1997); for an overview see Salles (2006)). But it must be outlined that Michael Dummett is also, and above all, one of the greatest contemporary philosophers whose work on the German logician Frege, on intuitionism, realism, anti-realism, justificationism has been central for the development of analytical philosophy in the second part of the last century and in this century (an example is the Symposium in a recent issue of Mind (see Peacocke (2005) and Dummett (2005)). Sir Michael Dummett is Wykeham Professor of Logic emeritus at Oxford University. His interview was conducted at New College, Oxford in September 2004.

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