Robert Aumann, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for his contributions to game theory, is vocally opposed to peace gestures that Israel either has made or that people have suggested it should make. His basic message can be summarized in the following passage:
Aumann: "We have time; we have patience; we have stamina. Understand this and internalize it. And we must not simply say it to our cousins but feel it within ourselves."
The obvious flaw in Aumann's reasoning: he treats emotions as always available moves in a game
So the optimal strategy for both Israel and Palestine is to play hardball and refuse to make concessions in any way in case they weaken their position.
Looks to me like thats exactly what we have been doing for 60+ years. Maybe in another 60 we can move forwards...
The real question about Aumann is what his views were on the Oslo accord prior to an Israeli fanatic nationalist assassinating Yitzhak Rabin. Many think that if Rabin had lived, there might have actually been a successful peace settlement, although possibly Aumann would disagree. However, the problem is that it was a hardliner of the same general position of Aumann's who brought about damaging its possibility of working by assassinating Rabin, as most think it was his death that really pushed it off the rails of possibly being achieved. I am not suggesting here that Aumann supported the assassination of Rabin, as I am sure that he did not.
Second, he signals "my argument must be very strong: So strong that I am not afraid to admit what might be seen as a weakness."
Very interesting, and counter-intuitive. Probably too counter-intuitive to be true, though - signalling only works if people generally come to the conclusion being signalled. Everyone's reaction on this blog seems to imply that people get the opposite signal. So if Aumann is trying to signal the strength of his arguments, he's doing a very bad job of it.
David Balan: "Why doesn't this destroy literally all of Aumann's credibility as a pundit?"
Aumann's position could be seen as combining intellectual honesty with social signaling.
First, he honestly exposes his religious and ideological background, even though this might be considered to weaken his position.
Michael Vassar: "I cannot relate to it, but for at least some fraction of the population the assertion of one's own selfish interest in a charity is taken to be moral support for one's request for charitable donations."
Michael, I agree with your point.
However, the argument in the letter could be understood as follows: "When my brother was diagnosed with MS, I was forced to learn some information which I had not bothered to learn before: the devastating effects of MS on the patient, as well as the emotional effect on the family. [maybe: And I also learned about the disease itself.] Please take advantage of my learning opportunity to understand why donating for MS is so important,"
Something that should probably be kept in mind in this discussion is the fact that Aumann has been a top adviser for decades to Israeli military intelligence. I do not know the details of what he has advised in the past, but he has certainly had a reputation for being a pretty hawkish hardliner. Also, a disproportionate number of top game theorists are Israeli, with a non-trivial number of those being former Aumann students, although not all of them share his relatively hawkish views, and even fewer of them share his Orthodox beliefs.
Another point is that there is a division among the Orthodox on hawkishness. Many of the Chasidim are anti-Zionist and not hawkish at all. The most hawkish tend to be the non-Chasidic Orthodox, the particular camp that Aumann happens to be in.
Chris Meyer is right that clearly there are examples from other situations where it looks like making appropriate gestures or "capitulations," to use a loaded term from Aumann, probably worked, with such examples as the Cuban missile crisis being at the top of the list, and some other Cold War or other cases certainly available. Schelling long ago identified most of these situations as being prisoners' dilemma games, repeated ones at that.
Now, in repeated prisoners' dilemma games, one of the more efficient ways to move to cooperation is to punish "cheaters," as in tit-for-tat. While Aumann did not put it this way in this statement, where he seems to give no quarter, one could justify his hardlining on such a basis. Thus, Israel made a gestures by pulling out of both southern Lebanon and also Gaza, with the result not being reciprocal moves to negotiation or peace, but triumphalist rhetoric by Hezbollah and Hamas hardliners that their uncompromising stances won and should be followed more vigorously. Of course, the Israeli effort to "teach them otherwise" last summer in southern Lebanon was a full-blown disaster, and arguably the uncompromising policies of sealing off Gaza have undermined al Fatah in Gaza and led to the current situation where uncompromising and war-making Hamas is in control there. Anyway, I can see why a usually close-mouthed hardliner like Aumann may now be surfacing more publicly with what probably amounts to an "I told you so" set of comments, even as such things as the building of the wall continues to undermine pretty much any sympathy most outsiders have for the Israelis in their current predicament. They are now in a very difficult situation, largely of their own making.
On the original posting, I do not see any reason to agree with David Balan. I do not see Aumann as telling us he is lying. He is telling us he told us so, frustrated that his advice has not been followed, and frustrated at the inability of Israel to "punish" the cheaters as called for in dynamics game theoretic solutions.
can always claim to be realistic pacifistsAnyone can claim to be something if they feel like it :-) The question is, are they? I feel there are huge amounts of "ignorant realistic pacifists" about the Israel-Palestine issue (including me). We don't care who is most righteous, we don't care about the details, we just want them to get their act together and sort things out.
What I think has changed is that, as Steve Sailer points out, conquest makes less sense when economies are more dependent on human capital than land and other natural resources.Good point there. And I think it dovetails with my point about Kalashnikovs and other weapons - the power of non-state actors to fight out the occupier is reduced today. The power of non-state actors to make life utterly miserable for the occupier is increased.
It totally neglected a major bread of pacifist - realistic pacifists. Those who want a peace that will hold.I believe Mencius does neglect serious pacifists of the Tolstoy/LeFevre sort (in the comments he acknowledges their existence but dismisses them as unimportant). The problem with your last sentence is that anyone who actually wants "righteousness" or "justice" or what Mencius would call "victory" rather than peace can always claim to be realistic pacifists, by saying that peace cannot come until their actual aims are achieved.
I also think that the modern world and the rise of nationalism and Kalashnikovs has made that old solutions to warNationalism is just modern tribalism. Tribalism isn't a new thing. All the ancient empires had to deal with the problem of ruled populaces occasionally getting riled up and revolting. As for Kalashnikovs, I hardly see how they equal the playing field anymore than flintlocks of old. If anything, the modern day with tanks and air-power that non-state actors (with the exception of the Tamil Tigers) cannot use makes the deck even more stacked against them. What I think has changed is that, as Steve Sailer points out, conquest makes less sense when economies are more dependent on human capital than land and other natural resources.
Eliezer,I am not saying that Aumann's position has to be false because he has an ulterior motive for making it. If we all had the ability, on our own, to fully evaluate all arguments and evidence that we came across, no one's motives for offering their opinion would matter at all. But in reality no one can know everything there is to know about every topic, which means that to a certain extent we must accept expert opinion simply because it is the opinion of experts, who presumably know more than we do. And when deciding how much store to set by a particular expert, ulterior motives matter a great deal.
TCCP wrote:I nominate space aliens, although I believe Reagan had the same idea earlier.
Ah, that glorious day when American tanks, aided by Al Qaeda suicide bombers and North Korean missiles, will do battle against Zog, Lord of Alpha Centauri.
Just an aside TGGP, that particular Unqualified Reservations seemed very weak. It totally neglected a major bread of pacifist - realistic pacifists. Those who want a peace that will hold. Close to status quo pacifists, but wanting viable states, clear borders, and less excuses to invoke righteous violence on any side (I also think that the modern world and the rise of nationalism and Kalashnikovs has made that old solutions to war - forcible occupation of the vanquished enemy - unviable. Genocide still works, though, unfortunately (see Darfur)).
The reason why ad hominem is a logical fallacy is that a correct argument does not cease to be correct because the arguer has an ulterior motive to argue for that conclusion.
However, a sucessfull ad hominem informs us that the arguer will omit arguments undermining his position, and that he cannot be given the benefit of the doubt in his appeals to authority (to his own authority, for Aumann). So unless you have a good undersanding and overview of group theory, Aumann's arguments should be ignored, as there is no way of testing their veracity.
Michael, I don't think America or Islam is particularly anthropomorphic either.
Nor was Nazi Germany. You don't need an anthropomophic enemy - you need an enemy that has symbolic athrompomorphic figures. Islam is the enemy, brown-faced suicide bomber are the figures. America is the enemey, multi-cutural homosexual decadents dropping cluster bombs or pornographic movies, are the figures. Nazi germany - gestapo officers. Railing against corrupt business practices has resonance only if you can find corrupt businessmen.
Think of what has happened to christian oposition to gays and gay marriage. None of the moral arguments against gay marriage are any different, or any weaker, than they used to be. Yet they are widely disbelieved nowaday. Why? Because the symbolic hate figure - the homosexual - turned out to be human after all.
All of them in the cummulative? They seem to approach 100%.Distinct existential risks? I'd have to go with the calculations of the experts. Of them, the creation of a self-improving intelligence smarter than humanity seems to be the highest near term risk, whether it's created intentionally by the Singularity Institute, by DARPA, or whether it occurs naturally in the internet or some such thing. I think smart people who think they can create a friendly AI misunderstand their own nontransparent (maybe even non-internally transparent) ruthlessness.
HA, you talk a lot about "existential risk". How likely do you think such risks are?
Correction: "challenges to MS and HA's" should read "challenges to MV's and HA's"
Michael, I don't think America or Islam is particularly anthropomorphic either. Although perhaps Anti-Islamism conjures up archetypal, anthropomorphic images of a brown guy. I'm not sure what exact anthropomorphic image America conjures up: but George W. Bush doesn't seem to capture it, and it seems less anthropomorphic to me. Partially because America is relatively good at representing itself flexibly and in a diversified way. America, heathen or religious? Anglosphere or original rebel to the anglosphere? White or diverse? etc. America seems particularly effective at coopting challenges and rebellions before they can become salient enough to threaten current American power structures. Hence, America has its first muslim congressman, and America's had a chief executive (Reagan) who said "Goverment is the problem, not the solution" -perhaps the ultimate coopting of subversive rhetoric.
To get directly to your point, you and I are both vested in an optimizing of whatever social phenomena exists towards the purpose of maximizing our mutual odds of persistence. In-group/Out-group manufacture is a powerful social phenomenon and I think it's a question of how it can be optimized to that end.
The problem is that there's a natural incentive for people to turn in-group/out-group manufacture towards the purpose of optimization of personal social heirarchy or intra-group distribution of wealth, even if this isn't overall maximizing reduction of collective existential risk (or alternatively, maximizing your and my persistence odds). This could be viewed either as a colllective action problem, or (from an egoist's perspective) as a personal persistence challenge.
There's also the question if our effort is just better spent in other areas, and, at least for now, should let these phenomena run their course while looking to maximize our persistence odds in other ways. Because there's probably an energy cost to trying to change in-group/out-group manufacture from Anti-America/Anti-Islam to most rationally anthropomorphized increasers of existential risk (or anthropomorphized challenges to MS and HA's personal persistence odds) that may not be justified compared to various other ways to spend our energy.