• Shawn
    10.8k
    I just bought a pretty heavy and dense book on the game-theoretic analysis of conflict by Myerson. I was trained as an economist in my education, and even in my application to my college, was already showing signs of an interest geared towards why conflict happens more often than cooperation; but... on second thought, we seem to be getting along well without any global wars.

    There's much to be said about the why's of why of why... ahem, I mean the why's of why conflict arises.

    Many people, falsely assume that wars have been "rationally" based on the expansion of resources. But, it's quite apparent from human history that we wage wars as not something we would say any rational man would do. We wage them, largely due to differences in ideological beliefs.

    Game theory, as an extension of decision theory, posits, that conflicts arise due to asymmetrical differences in shared belief, a more formal way of stating the previous.

    Ok, I'm going to drop the formalism, and blatantly state, that there's nothing rational about war, even though, perhaps, nothing else in human history has been so devoted to what is actually rational to do in the process of warfare.

    Why is that?
  • BitconnectCarlos
    558


    I feel like you're just using the economic definition of "rational" here which is concerned with, well, economics.

    The philosophic notion of rationality is a little more elusive. One way of defining it would be something like "hey, if I want X then how do I achieve it?" and from there we can begin to give reasons or evidence. This would be called a hypothetical imperative and it's a more constricted sense in that reason/rationality is always considered in relation to an end. If someone doesn't share your end then it can be difficult to discussion rationality.

    To put it more concretely, if someone just doesn't value peace or the life of an individual or happiness then war might make sense for them. If someone values, say, instilling military values in a generation of the youth or the expansion of an ethnic group then war might make perfect sense to them.

    What I'm saying here is that you need to make a more expansive definition of rationality if you want to make your point stronger.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    What I'm saying here is that you need to make a more expansive definition of rationality if you want to make your point stronger.BitconnectCarlos

    But, in what other terms can I express it in the rationale of war? The only "reason" that one can provide for war, would be economic. Yet, it isn't rational. How do you constrain rationality to account for the multitude of militaristic expansions in human history?
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    Now, one can doubt the economic sense of warfare nowadays, when the mind of the market, invisible hand or whatnot, can account for everyone? Yet, it is near certain, that humankind hasn't reached some apogee where war has been deemed irrelevant.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    558


    I am not saying that war is inherently rational. I'm just saying we need to judge its rationality in relation to some goal. Very often the stated goal is national security, but there's been so many wars in history that it's impossible to account for all of the leaders motivations. Often stated motivations can't be totally trusted or they're not the whole truth.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    Very often the stated goal is national security, but there's been so many wars in history that it's impossible to account for all of the leaders motivations. Often stated motivations can't be totally trusted or they're not the whole truth.BitconnectCarlos

    Yes, I agree. But, the point hereabouts seems to me to be about when is war justified? Economically, it would only make sense if one were to assume some kind of absolute victory.

    So, then, it's not about economics, since, everyone is preparing for war, apart from the Carribean Islands, or Ibizia.

    Furthermore, the evolution of human history has deemed war too expensive, as of the recent past, to ever engage in conflict. Nuclear bombs, weapons of mass destruction utilized, bio-chemical warfare and so on...

    So, what's left is cooperation, yes or what is (at least nowadays) most rational?

    (Personally, I think the USA, has been dealt a hand of wonderful cards to make it so long without the need for total enveloping conflict.)
  • Brett
    2.3k


    I guessing that half the wars have been about defence.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    I guessing that half the wars have been about defence.Brett

    Yes, cold-wars, spur economic activity, yet every economist knows that a bridge will provide better returns than an a-bomb.
  • Valentinus
    792

    War may not be rational but the end of negotiation is not necessarily irrational.
    We all have our limits to how much is a matter of a deal that could be struck versus accepting conditions that simply negate our lives.
    It is important to differentiate between these conditions but doing so is not easy.
    It is too central to our experience of being human to make a categorical judgement about.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    558


    But, the point hereabouts seems to me to be about when is war justified?

    That's a really difficult question that philosophers have been trying to answer for ages and I personally do not know.

    So, what's left is cooperation, yes or what is (at least nowadays) most rational?

    Well, the US is able to wage long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so I wouldn't call war "too expensive." Ideally everyone would cooperate but in real-world circumstances this just hasn't been the case or it hasn't been possible.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    War may not be rational but the end of negotiation is not necessarily irrational.Valentinus

    Really? I might be overburdening you here; but, what about the start of war can be deemed rational at all?
  • BitconnectCarlos
    558


    I'm reading a book about primitive warfare right now and interestingly in many of these primitive societies, in particular the native americans, the warfare was necessary because it was how young men would advance in the society. Nobody would respect a man who hadn't been to war and he wouldn't be able to lead hunting parties or advance to positions of responsibility.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    Well, the US is able to wage long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so I wouldn't call war "too expensive." Ideally everyone would cooperate but in real-world circumstances this just hasn't been the case or it hasn't been possible.BitconnectCarlos

    Yes, but, pretty much due to complex reasons. One was under a false premise, and the other, was due to an already prior conflict that enveloped the region and created the situation as to render a new type of warfare as relevant, being "terrorism".
  • Valentinus
    792

    Well, I did say that I cannot make a "rational" argument for war.
    The Aquinas argument for a "just" war is not helpful.
    But everybody decides when to fight when they fight.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    Well, I did say that I cannot make a "rational" argument for war.
    The Aquinas argument for a "just" war is not helpful.
    Valentinus

    Agreed.

    But everybody decides when to fight when they fight.Valentinus

    OK, so that's interesting. How does this "decision" arise in two or more parties? When all alternatives have been exhausted? Then one has to create new alternatives, no?
  • Valentinus
    792
    Creating new alternatives as a peacemaker is tough job.
    It may not work.
    Some people I have met try stuff that may not work at all.
    I try to be like them.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    Some people I have met try stuff that may not work at all.Valentinus

    What do you mean by that?

    Assuming that war is irrational and death unavoidable, I can see some merit to the idea of proposing something less than ideal, than a solution to both or more parties, yes?
  • Valentinus
    792

    What I mean by that is that each struggle is peculiar to itself.
    Some differences seem large in the mind but involve short distances in the world.
    Other struggles involve complicated histories where the struggle is cast as generations fighting other generations.
    I don't have a theory to embrace that makes sense of this broad expanse of what is happening and how the participants make it real for themselves.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    I don't have a theory to embrace that makes sense of this broad expanse of what is happening and how the participants make it real for themselves.Valentinus

    Yeah, and isn't that because war is always the worst option, although self-satisfying to some or many?
  • Valentinus
    792
    War is a personal choice.
    I agree with your opinion about it as an option in an ideal sense.
    But it is your choice before it is anything else.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    War is a personal choice.Valentinus

    Only in a dictatorship, yes. Hence, why the world seems to like democracies?

    I agree with your opinion about it as an option in an ideal sense.
    But it is your choice before it is anything else.
    Valentinus

    Sorry, I don't understand this...
  • Valentinus
    792
    If you decide to fight, you will do that.

    So has it always been.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    If you decide to fight, you will do that.

    So has it always been.
    Valentinus

    Sorry that I'm so quizzical; but, aren't you advocating some just-war theory assuming, that the decision is personal or made due to factors out of one's control or such?
  • Valentinus
    792
    If I decide to fight, it won't be because I assured myself it was just.
    I don't get to know beforehand.
    I don't understand most of the things that are happening.
    My decision tree cannot wait for everything to be understood.
    But choices have to be made in difficult situations.
    No set of Ethics will relieve one of that responsibility.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    My decision tree cannot wait for everything to be understood.Valentinus

    True, and why we have the Pentagon in the US or the Ministry of Defense in the UK. (Though, I don't think they need to worry much about being invaded.)

    No set of Ethics will relieve one of that responsibility.Valentinus

    OK, so you state that conflict is a personal choice, yet, assume that there's some responsibility to be had in regards to it. I don't think you can have both.
  • Valentinus
    792
    All of our choices stick to us like glue.
    How can it not be both?
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    All of our choices stick to us like glue.
    How can it not be both?
    Valentinus

    But, war shouldn't be a choice if we both agree about its very insaneness and irrationality, should it?

    That would be like, the US, and the USSR, both agreeing that the first strike is not off the table with regards to mutually assured destruction in the cold war.
  • Valentinus
    792

    I agree that kicking off a war that ends the planet is stupid and hopefully will not happen.

    The right thing to do about that situation may not apply to all conflicts.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    I agree that kicking off a war that ends the planet is stupid and hopefully will not happen.

    The right thing to do about that situation may not apply to all conflicts.
    Valentinus

    Why not?
  • Valentinus
    792

    Because the relationship to who has the power is always specific to a particular situation.
    Is there to be a unified theory where being an employee is the same thing as being a nation state?
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    Because the relationship to who has the power is always specific to a particular situation.
    Is there to be a unified theory where being an employee is the same thing as being a nation state?
    Valentinus

    Sorry, I don't really understand much of this. You'll have to explain a little more to me.

    Thanks.
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