Upper Left Quadrant Details Upper Right Quadrant Details Lower Left Quadrant Details Lower Right Quadrant Details Details



Choice is all about gratification. A preference for one thing is paid for by the sacrifice of other things. This means that there are different kinds of choices.
The vertical axis captures the environment of choice, including the constraints on competition among the myriad claims of recognition or satisfaction by one or more sets of interests whose private preferences are being imposed on public objects. The horizontal axis is concerned with the scale of participation in the choice to be made. As Kenneth Arrow and Mancur Olson have demonstrated, the number of participants is a major if not the major determinant in the process of choice and the prospect of choices that are satisfactory to all concerned. This is the origin of the quest for “rational choice”.
The ULQ is the classic situation and dilemma of the great Hobbesian liberal search for a satisfied public. Liberty as the state of nature enables individuals to make choices that will be rational for immediate gratification - until a stronger neighbor makes a choice of taking the first individual's choice. Following Hobbes and Locke, rational individuals will decide - as in a "social contract" - to give up part of their choice in return for protection from risk. This means that all three of the other quadrants are types of choice that involve constraints on choice as well as on liberty. In the LLQ, constraints on selfish interests of individuals are deferred gratification imposed on the requirement of contract to implement and sustain the original choice. Choice by contract requires law (dictation) of some sort to control the future, and that has tremendous bearing on the rationality of choice. The LRQ is a product of voluntary merger of individuals and groups into larger groups, with collective choice as the by product of combinations and compromises, i.e. factions built on interest. This is where Kenneth Arrow's problem of intransitivity is confirmed, but also where intransitivity can be overcome by control of the agenda, which comprises the order and priority of choices. The URQ is based on path-dependency and carries constraint of choice to the ultimate, with institution as a collective choice regulated by past traditions, habits, and beliefs perpetuating the existing order.