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Jean-François Godefroy, Alexander cutting the Gordian knot, 1767

Decision, Decisionism, Decision-making: Making Sovereign Decisions in the 20th Century

Friday, October 16, 2015, 9:00 a.m.

International Workshop
Decision, Decisionism, Decision-making: Making Sovereign Decisions in the 20th Century

October 16-17, 2015

4 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10003

In 1967, political theorist Judith Shklar observed that “decisionism” had a vast appeal among political scientists because it was an essential basis for reducing political complexities to a “systematic, diagrammatic form.” How does the fascination with “rational choice” connect with older and less rationalistic concepts of decision-making? What are the visible and less visible connections between formalistic decision theory from game theory to cybernetics and more traditional concepts of sovereign decision-making? What is the prehistory of the algorithmic models of decision so pervasive today? This workshop is the last of a series of meetings meant to address these questions and explore the transformation of our understanding of sovereign decision-making in the 20th century*.

October 16, 2015

09:00-09:30 am   Arrival of the participants and breakfast
09:30-09:45 am   Introduction
09:45-10:30 am   Stephen WertheimThe Decision Before Decisionism. The Concept of Public Opinion in Anglo-American International Thought, 1815-1939
10:30-11:15 am   Daniel Steinmetz JenkinsAron, Hayek, and the Decisionist Dimension of Neoliberalism
11:15-11:30 am   Coffee Break
11:30-12:15 pm   Nicolas Guilhot & Daniel BessnerKenneth Waltz, Foreign Policy Decisions and System Theory
12:15-01:00 pm   Sonja AmadaeAlgorithmic Intelligence and Nuclearized Sovereignty
01:00-03:00 pm   Lunch
03:00-03:45 pm   Jenny Andersson  - Prediction and Decision
03:45-04:30 pm   Egle Rindzeviciute - Nikita Moiseev and the Use of Global Modelling as a Decision Aid
04:30-04:45 pm   Coffee break
04:45-05:30 pm   Anna KronlundDebate and Political Decision Culture in the United States
06:00 pm             Drinks and dinner

October 17, 2105

09:30-10:15 am   Ian Zuckerman & Carlo Invernizzi AccettiMilitant democracy
10:15-11:00 am   Nomi Claire LazarDisease Defies Decisionism: Police Power, Pox, and new Evidence against the Exception
11-11:15:00 am   Coffee break
11:15-12:00 am   Philip MirowskiInformation and Decision
12-12:45:00 pm   Angèle ChristinPredictive Algorithms and Sentencing in the U.S. Criminal Justice System
12:45-02:30 pm   Lunch
02:30-04:00 pm   Open discussion: Concepts of Decision in the 20th Century
04:00-05:00 pm   Wrap-up session and discussion of edited volume and next steps.

* Please note: this workshop is by invitation only. If you are interested in attending, please email