The Making of the French Declaration of Human Rights with Marek Nowicki.
On November 23, the second Marek Nowicki Memorial Lecture, presented by the Open Society Institute and Central European University, was given by the Norwegian-born political theorist, Jon Elster (Columbia University, US; Chaire du Rationalite et Sciences Sociales, France), on The Making of the French Declaration of Human Rights. Stefan Messmann (Head, Department of Legal Studies) served as chair of the event, and Wiktor Osiatynski (CEU University Professor) offered introductory words about Elster, as well as the background of the lecture series.
In the lecture, dedicated to the achievements of Marek Nowicki, the admired Polish human rights advocate, Elster reviewed the creation and interpretation of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, at times article by article, looking at those who helped create it, as well as critique it, at the time. He further elaborated on a variety of points in a lengthy question and answer session, including the document's relation to the American Declaration of Independence, and how women were considered in its formulations, among other topics.
Before coming to Columbia University, he taught in Paris, Oslo and Chicago. His publications include Ulysses and the Sirens (1979), Sour Grapes (1983), Making Sense of Marx (1985), The Cement of Society (1989), Solomonic Judgements (1989), Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences (1989), Local Justice (1992) and Political Psychology (1993).
His research interests include the theory of rational choice, the theory of distributive justice and the history of social thought (Marx and Tocqueville). He is currently working on a comparative study of constitution-making processes from the Federal Convention to the present and on a study of retroactive justice in countries that have recently emerged from authoritarian or totalitarian rule. Research interests include Theory of Rational Choice and the Theory of Distributive Justice.