Kellogg Center Hosts Workshop on Formal Models of Politics

The Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics will host a workshop on formal models in politics on August 4, 2023, in the Newman Library Multipurpose Room.

Formal models, including decision-theoretic, game-theoretic, and agent-based models, have become widely accepted tools for scientific inquiry in philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE). Today, they represent a central area of methodology and research in PPE. This workshop will focus specifically on the use of formal models in politics.

Formal models in politics provide abstract representations of political choices and behaviors. The models help to identify key mechanisms and relationships that underlie political processes and institutions. In doing so, they allow for the testing of positive political theories that postulate explicit assumptions about individual human action within a set of political institutions.

This workshop offers a forum for scholars to present new models of politics and engage in critical reflections on the use of formal models in politics. Participants will explore the substantive, normative, and empirical implications of the strategic interactions disclosed by these models, with the goal of explaining and evaluating political phenomena and institutions. The workshop will bring together a diverse group of emerging and senior scholars in the field.

1. Speakers

Justin Fox is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on American political institutions and game theoretic models of policymaking. His current projects employ models of political agency to understand how institutions affect the policies elected officials pursue in office.

Dan Gibbs is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech and Core Faculty at the Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. His research employs game theoretic models to study political institutions with particular focus on legislative and bureaucratic politics.

John Patty is a Professor of Political Science and Quantitative Theory & Methods at Emory University. Co-editor of the Journal of Theoretical Politics and the Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions book series at Cambridge Univ Press, Professor Patty’s research focuses on mathematical models of economic and political institutions. 

Ian Turner is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. His research focuses primarily on political institutions and democratic accountability and representation. His current projects use applied formal modeling to study various topics in bureaucratic politics and special interest politics.

Elaine Yao is a Ph.D. candidate in Politics at Princeton University where she is affiliated with the Research Program in Political Economy and the Program for Quantitative and Analytical Political Science. Yao’s current research uses formal theory and quantitative methods to study decentralized collective action.

2. Workshop schedule

8:45-9:00. Gathering and Refreshments

9:00-9:15. Welcoming Remarks: Michael Moehler

9:15-10:15. Dan Gibbs: “Representation in Multilateral Bargaining: The Veto’s Appeal”

10:15-10:30. Coffee Break 

10:30-11:30. Ian Turner: “Institutional Foundations of the Power to Persuade.”

11:30-11:45. Coffee Break

11:45-12:45. Justin Fox. “Populism, Stigma, and Political Correctness.”

12:45-2:15. Lunch Break

2:15-3:15. Elaine Yao: “Brook no Compromise: How to Negotiate a United Front.”

3:15-3:30. Coffee Break

3:30-4:30. John Patty: “Algorithmic Fairness with Feedback.”

4:30-4:45. Concluding Remarks

6:00. Dinner (on invitation)

3. Attendance, format, and papers

The workshop is open to the public. All faculty and students are cordially invited to attend. For planning purposes, please submit the following form to RSVP. Coffee and refreshments will be provided throughout the day.

During the workshop, each speaker will have one hour devoted to discussing their work, with the first thirty minutes of presentation by the speaker followed by a discussion.

For any questions regarding the workshop, please contact Dan Gibbs ( who serves as the main organizer of this workshop.  

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Holly Belcher ( at least ten business days before the event.

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