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The Decisionist Imagination
Sovereignty, Social Science and Democracy in the 20th Century
Edited by Daniel Bessner and Nicolas Guilhot
320 pages, 1 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78533-915-8 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (October 2018)
eISBN 978-1-78533-916-5 eBook
“The Decisionist Imagination expertly outlines the development of a key component of social scientific thought, placing it into historical context across the whole of the twentieth century, providing a systematic analysis and evaluation of a core concept present in virtually all academic fields.” • Inderjeet Parmar, City, University of London
In the decades following World War II, the science of decision-making moved from the periphery to the center of transatlantic thought. The Decisionist Imagination explores how “decisionism” emerged from its origins in prewar political theory to become an object of intense social scientific inquiry in the new intellectual and institutional landscapes of the postwar era. By bringing together scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, this volume illuminates how theories of decision shaped numerous techno-scientific aspects of modern governance—helping to explain, in short, how we arrived at where we are today.
Daniel Bessner is the Anne H. H. and Kenneth B. Pyle Assistant Professor in American Foreign Policy in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual (Cornell University Press, 2018).
Nicolas Guilhot is a research professor at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris and a visiting scholar at New York University. His publications include After the Enlightenment: Political Realism and International Relations in the Mid-20th Century (Cambridge University Press, 2017), The Democracy Makers: Human Rights and the Politics of Global Order (Columbia University Press, 2005), The Invention of International Relations Theory: Realism, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the 1954 Conference on Theory (Columbia University Press, 2011).
Subject: Postwar History
Area: North America Europe
List of Figures and Tables
Introduction: Who Decides?
Daniel Bessner and Nicolas Guilhot
Chapter 1. Reading the International Mind: International Public Opinion in Early Twentieth Century Anglo-American Thought
Chapter 2. Militant Democracy as Decisionist Liberalism: Reason and Power in the Work of Karl Loewenstein
Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti and Ian Zuckerman
Chapter 3. Parliamentary and Electoral Decisions as Political Acts
Chapter 4. Decision and Decisionism
Nomi Claire Lazar
Chapter 5. How Having Reasons Became Making a Decision: The Cold War Rise of Decision Theory and the Invention of Rational Choice
Chapter 6. Computable Rationality, NUTS, and the Nuclear Leviathan
Chapter 7. The Unlikely Revolutionaries: Decision Sciences in the Soviet Government
Chapter 8. Prediction and Social Choice: Daniel Bell and Future Research
Chapter 9. Predictive Algorithms and Criminal Sentencing
Conclusion: The Myth of the Decision
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