Past Events

September 27, 2013








June 3, 2013

Dustin Tingley is an Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard University. He received my PhD in Politics from Princeton in 2010 and BA from the University of Rochester in 2001. His research interests include international relations, international political economy, and experimental approaches to political science. He is currently working on new experimental projects on bargaining, new methods for the statistical analysis of causal mechanisms, and a book about the domestic politics of US foreign policy.

May 31, 2013

Arthur Ripstein is Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, and Chair of the Department of Philosophy. He was appointed to the Department of Philosophy in 1987, promoted to full professor in 1996, and appointed to the Faculty of Law in 1999. He received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, a degree in law from Yale, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba.

May 31, 2013

What explains why democracy emerges in some places but not others? Scholarship on ‘endogenous’ democratization has in recent years shifted attention away from the hypothesized impact of economic growth on regime change, and turned to consider the political consequences of different patterns of equal and unequal growth. These ‘redistributivist’ arguments highlight a supposed tension between democracy and property, suggesting that economic inequality forestalls regime change because it implies that under universal suffrage, the poor would vote to redistribute wealth. We suggest such arguments are theoretically misleading and miss the mark empirically, and offer a novel theoretical alternative that links patterns of inequality to patterns of regime change over time and across space. Our argument emphasizes the compatibility between democracy and property: In our view income inequality does not signify that the rich have more to fear from the poor, but that the rich have more to fear from those who control the state. Democracy is about taxation with representation - whether rising but politically disenfranchised economic groups have sufficient resources to compete for control over the levers of government.

May 24, 2013

This paper offers some critical considerations from the perspective of an epistemic deliberative democrat on the recent Icelandic experiment in constitution writing. While the novelty of the experiment and its on-going nature presents a challenge to the observer, it is nonetheless possible to say a few things about the likely epistemic properties of the chosen institutional design. I argue that the constitutional writing process is likely to have produced a good constitution—that is a constitution meeting objective standards of quality—to the extent that it strived for inclusiveness through various methods, such as direct popular participation at various stages of the process, descriptive representation or something close to it where direct participation wasn’t feasible, and relative transparency. The paper also discusses some epistemic weaknesses in the process that could have damaged it and speculates about the alternative ways in which the experiment could have been conducted or at least tweaked so as to be more properly inclusive.

May 24, 2013

This study uses a randomized field experiment to evaluate two widely-used classes of strategies for minimizing the social costs and realizing the economic benefits from ethnic diversity: (1) assimilationist strategies, which encourage the construction of superordinate social identities (e.g., based on a team, religion, or nation) and (2) multiculturalist strategies, which entail the construction of shared intergroup beliefs that acknowledge the value of each group's culture. The experimental results from Kenya indicate that, in ethnically diverse groups, multiculturalist approaches enhance creativity and improve performance in intellective tasks like problem-solving, but assimilationist approaches are more effective at improving prospects for interethnic cooperation. Moreover, in those cases where diversity produces productivity gains, the effects are non-monotonic, such that there exists an optimal amount of diversity. These results provide an empirical foundation for adjudicating between competing strategies for managing diversity in multicultural societies.

May 20, 2013

The collapse of political regimes – both democratic and autocratic – is often brought about through large-scale mobilization and collective action by (elements of) the populace against its leadership. The willingness of any given member of the public to participate in such actions against her leaders is contingent upon her beliefs about others’ willingness to similarly mobilize. In this paper, we examine the role of the disclosure of economic data by the government to the populace on citizen belief formation, and consequently on collective mobilization. We present a theoretical model in which disclosure, under autocratic rule, (1) increases the extent to which mobilization is correlated with incumbent performance, and (2) for a range of parameter values, increases the frequency of mobilization. In democracies, by contrast, disclosure increases voter discrimination with respect to government performance. Because voting and mobilization act as substitute mechanisms in disciplining the government, the risk of mobilization falls in transparency. We empirically test these claims and find that all enjoy robust support. Transparency destabilizes autocracies even as it stabilizes democracies.

May 17, 2013

The progress of climate change places moral demands on all of us to do something about it. It makes moral demands on governments and the international community, and also on each of us as private individuals. The public and private morality of climate change derives from moral duties of two different sorts. Firstly, it derives from the general duty of beneficence to make things better. Secondly, it derives from duties of justice, and in particular from the duty not to harm other people except in specific circumstances.

It turns out that the private morality of climate change is entirely governed by the duty of justice not to harm. Emitting greenhouse gas harms other people in a way that is not morally permitted, so we should not do it.

Fortunately, at present we can satisfy this moral demand by offsetting our emissions.

The public morality of climate change is partly governed by the duty of justice, but more strongly by the duty to make things better. To carry out this duty properly requires goods and harms to be weighed against each other. In particular, it requires sacrifices on the part of the present generation to be weighed against benefits to future generations. However, it is in fact possible to correct the externality caused by greenhouse gases without any sacrifices by anybody. I shall argue that, given the present deadlock in negotiations, this possibility deserves more attention.

May 17, 2013

Does international recognition of new states affect support for territorial compromise among members of groups engaged in violent conflict and why?  We argue that international recognition increases popular support for territorial compromise by conveying new information about the extent of international support for statehood.  High international support for statehood persuades group members that they are in a stronger bargaining position and will receive a more favorable negotiated settlement than previously believed, increasing support for territorial compromise.  We provide evidence for this argument from a panel survey and survey experiment assessing the impact of the recent United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state.  We find that UNGA recognition increased support for territorial compromise among Palestinians and, consistent with our theoretical argument, especially among less informed individuals with low predisposition to support territorial compromise.  We also find evidence consistent with the propositions that international recognition provides information about international support and increases the perceived favorability of negotiated settlements.  These results contribute to the long-standing international relations literature about how and why international institutions matter: in contrast to the general skepticism of this literature, we show that the UNGA can shape domestic public opinion about conflict even in difficult cases.