Netanyahu saids the 67 lines are indefensible. His critics say this is bunk.
But they are largely talking past one another.
There are two reasons, in my mind, why Israel is not any time soon going to withdraw to the 1967 borders, nor accept an agreement closely based upon it with some adjustments through land swaps. And neither of them have much to do with a belief on Israel's part that occupying Gaza and the West Bank are crucial to Israel's ability to defend itself from external threats.
In comments on this post, Dan Nexon rightly pointed out that I was very hand-wavy about "positivism", "post-positivism" and "critical theory." He also notes that Wikipedia is anything but helpful here. I agree completely. Not only is their entry on positivism terrible, for all the reason described here, but by their definition of post-positivism, I'm not sure how many quant types would be considered positivists. Even though Wiki informs me that positivism is "the dominant approach to both research and theory construction...in the United States," and that "the majority of articles published in leading...political science journals today are positivist."
So I won't claim to know what the appropriate definitions of positivism and post-positivism are. I'm going to try to sort out a bit better what the dividing lines are within the field. I'm sure I'm going to misrepresent the views of some, and I welcome corrections. Let me be clear. This is a crude attempt at moving the conversation forward, not an attempt to definitively lay matters to rest.
2. Knesset to discuss Armenian genocide. Read: Israel and Turkey continue to drift apart. You'd think with all the paranoia about what a post-Mubarak Egypt means for Israel that Netanyahu would be doing everything he can to repair Israel's relationship with its other major Muslim ally. You'd be wrong.
6. A third of Berlin students would consider sex work to pay for college. Considering that this is presumably a less viable option for male students, that's a pretty stunning figure. Though one does wonder what respondents mean when they say they'd "consider" sex work, since only 4% report having done so. How much of that is simply a difference in sexual mores? (H/T Brandon Valeriano)
7. Because nuclear annihilation is just that funny, I close this post with two humorous links: one and two.
Though I haven't wrapped up the Rat Choice Apologetics series yet, I'm starting to think about the next series of posts. I'd like to get some input from you all. I don't want to leave out any of the major explanations. So here's my partial list of explanations to be explored. Let me know if you think I'm missing any major arguments.
1. Kantian/Liberal peace. The spread of democracy, economic interdependence and international institutions constrained the behavior of leaders, discouraging resort to arms when conflicts arise. (This may need to be broken up into separate pieces.)
2. Distribution of power. Balancing unified Europe during the Cold War, and U.S. leadership of the international system kept things stable after the fall of the Soviet Union.
3. Norms and/or identity change. Perhaps aided to some extent by some of the above factors, European political elites increasingly came to view armed conflict as an unacceptable means of conflict resolution, while mass publics increasingly adopted a common European identity.
4. Resolution of underlying issues. Through a combination of foreign-imposed regime change, territorial transfers, and the ending of the imperial age, the major powers and their allies eventually ceased to have any major disagreements. What disagreements remained were easy to resolve short of resort to arms.
I should be grading right now. But I need a break. First off, I apologize for the delay in continuing the series. Second, a quick administrative note. Scott Wolford has graciously agreed to write a guest post in this series, addressing the limitations of focusing on two player games. There may be one or two other guest posts coming too, so stay tuned.
Let's recap. So far, I've basically argued that we shouldn't worry about whether the assumption of rationality (either in the sense required for utility maximization or the everyday sense) is TRUE. What we should worry about is whether the theoretical models that we analyze are useful. I've started to talk some about how we judge whether a model is useful, or whether its assumptions are reasonable. Both of those questions will be explored in greater depth by future posts. For now, I want to argue that there really is no such thing as "rational choice theory." At least, not in any sense that would be of interest to most political scientists.
Blogger went down for a while yesterday, as many of you probably know. Not only couldn't I post new things, but you all were unable to comment, and to top it all off, Blogger apparently managed to lose the comments on this thread as well as the two updates I'd added. Quite frustrating. I've added added some additional thoughts at the bottom of this post. Some of that is trying to replace what Blogger deleted, but some of it is new, as I've had time to further reflect on the debate.
I certainly don't want to make apologies for the Bush administration. And Krugman surely has it right when he says the public was not clamoring for the Iraq war. But even so, I think Kindred had it right when he said that Krugman's politics of blame is anything but sophisticated, and I'm with Drezner in viewing the public as partly responsible.
The night it was announced that the US killed bin Laden, I speculated on Facebook that the US must have secured tacit approval from Pakistan, as it seemed to me all but inconceivable that bin Laden was not where he was because he was being sheltered by some parts of the Pakistani government (such as the ISI).
My friends were quick to point out how absurd my claim was. Sure, the ISI probably knew he was there, but no way in hell did they approve letting the US come get him.
Well, we still don't know who knew what, and whether the agreement negotiated by Bush and Musharraf was still in force, but this news makes me feel partly vindicated.
5. Greenwald and Frum on bin Laden, law, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. You need some tolerance for hackery (of which both are guilty), but there are some interesting arguments made (again by both, I'd say). Especially when they talk about the implications for the future of the Afghanistan war, around the 30 min mark.
9. Refugees left to die at sea. Yes, Italy and France are intervening in Libya because the international community has a responsibility to protect innocent lives. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. (H/T Emre Hatipoglu)
Right now, there are a bunch of grad students out there who just passed their comps this spring. Many of them are probably just starting to transition from the "wow, I'm never going to have to write a response paper about an article I didn't really read ever again!" stage to the "dang, now I have to, like, write stuff, right?" stage. (Incidentally, you're not really done with response papers, it's just that in the future you'll call them referee reports.)
So here's some random thoughts about how to make the most out of that process.
As the result of a computer crash and my decision to switch back to PC from Mac, my academic site is finding a new home at weebly. By the way, all you grad students out there who haven't yet set up a personal site, take note: weebly is free, entirely web-based, and ridiculously easy to use.
My old site will remain online until the end of the calendar year. All the old links, such as the many ones I've embedded in posts on this blog, will continue to work until that time. But I will no longer be maintaining that site. I'm too lazy to go back through all my old posts and switch the links, but from this point forward, any link to working papers, slides, teaching materials, etc, will link to this site.
UPDATE: I should also add that if you aren't already using Dropbox, or Mozy, or some such service, you should be. Even though I can't even get my Macbook to start up anymore, the only thing I lost was some music, because everything important was in Dropbox. That made what would otherwise have been a rather traumatic event no more than somewhat irritating.
So far, I've argued that if we accept the everyday definition of rationality, one need not assume the agents whose behavior we model is rational in order to assume that they maximize expected utility (see here), and, further, that we need not worry much about whether the assumptions of our models are non-falsifiable, provided the model nonetheless produces non-trivial insights (see here).
But, at best, I've given you reason not to be persuaded that game theoretic models rest upon a set of assumptions that are so absurd that the entire practice is doomed. But as Dan Nexon has rightly pointed out, that's not a high bar to cross. There are folks out there who are willing to dismiss the entire practice on the basis of such sweeping claims, but still. There are also lots of folks who are open to the idea, at least in principle, that valuable insights into political and social phenomena might be generated by mathematical models in which actors are assumed to maximize expected utility, but who nonetheless have very legitimate questions about whether the models that social scientists tend to develop in practice are in fact achieving that goal. In short, I want to move away from a general defense of the approach and start getting into specifics.
This next few posts will address some of the more controversial specific assumptions that are frequently made in practice. We start with the question of what people value.
I am an assistant professor of political science who studies international relations. My interests include international conflict, domestic politics, bargaining theory, formal theory, and the empirical implications of theoretical models.