Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Media Type: Film Clips Topic: Government & the Economy

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In a famous scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” King Arthur encounters two peasants who question how he became king and why he is entitled to be their ruler. After hearing the Arthurian legend, one peasant remarks, “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.” The seeming absurdity of such a method of government provides an excellent jumping off point for introducing voting paradoxes and the possible randomness arising from using voting for collective decision making or agenda setting. Instructors might then choose to discuss Arrow’s (1951) well-known result that no voting system can simultaneously fulfill five seemingly reasonable and basic conditions.

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