Gerry Mackie, University of California San Diego
About the Seminar
Gerry Mackie will report on the theory and practice of his work with the West African NGO Tostan since 1998, and UNICEF since 2004, in organizing collective abandonment of female genital cutting and other harmful social practices. His approach combines historical sociology, simple game theory, simple network analysis, social norms, moral psychology, and values deliberations. It was recently declared the “common approach” in a document published by major donor-country development agencies and intergovernmental organizations. The organized change of social norms in the community through values deliberations is a good way to solve some development problems.
About Gerry Mackie
Gerry Mackie is a political theorist interested in contemporary political theory, the history of political thought, and problems of collective action. His main area of interest is democracy, particularly democratic voting. Certain influential interpretations of social choice theory, by William Riker and his followers, and in part about Kenneth Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem, held that democratic voting is arbitrary and meaningless. Mackie’s book, Democracy Defended, thoroughly challenged those interpretations. Further, the standard interpretation of rational choice theory in political science holds that it is almost always irrational for an individual to vote in a democratic election, and Mackie’s recent work is an internal criticism of that view. In short, he rebuts the major skeptical claims made by postwar American political science about democratic voting.
Democracy Seminar Series
The Democracy Seminar Series brings distinguished speakers to Harvard Kennedy School for the academic year to address critical challenges facing democratic governance.
* This event is co-sponsored by the Women in Public Policy Program.