What to political theorists do? And why should political scientists care?

Event Date: 

Friday, May 25, 2018 - 12:30pm

Event Date Details: 

Lunch ProvidedEll

Event Location: 

  • Ellison Hall 3824 (Lane Rm)

David Wiens' research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of political philosophy, philosophy of social science, and political economy. Most of his current research explicates the ways in which political philosophy and political science are deeply integrated modes of inquiry. More generally, he is interested in the role of (formal and informal) models in philosophical and scientific inquiry, and in sorting out what we can learn about the nature and value of justice from models of collective choice, social bargaining, and institutional development.

Before arriving at UCSD, Professor Wiens was Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Philosophy at the Australian National University.

In this talk, Wiens will draw two analogies at places where the gaps between political theory and political science are often perceived to be most pronounced. The first is an analogy between ideal political theory and game theory; the second is an analogy between ideal political theory and quantitative political science.The first suggests that what political theorists do is akin to what game theorists do: construct idealized models for the purpose of exploring relationships among important concepts such as freedom, equality, mutual advantage, social welfare, & rationality. The second suggests that political scientists should care about this conceptual exploration for the same reason they care about asymptotic theory in statistics: political theorists analyze conceptual "limit points", which is required for making credible generalizations from a sample of empirical data to some larger population of interest.