Thursday, January 30, 2014

War is Mostly in the Error Term, But That's Okay

Erik Gartzke's 1999 article "War is in the Error Term" is often described as a critique of Fearon 1995's "Rationalist Explanations for War". I'm not sure where this interpretation came from, because the article itself argues (appropriately) that we must either accept the limitations implied by Fearon's work or hold logic in contempt. Gartzke is not claiming to be engaged in reductio ad absurdum.\(^1\) In no way is he suggesting that we should or can dismiss Fearon's argument because we don't like its conclusions. But nonetheless, the idea is out there, and people sometimes ask me how I'd respond to it, so I figured I'd write this post.