Political liberalism began in the eighteenth century with the effort to establish a secular state in which religious differences would be tolerated. If religious views include universal principles to apply to all by force if necessary, diverse religions must conflict, perhaps fatally. In a sense, then, political liberalism was an invention to resolve a then current, awful problem. Its proponents were articulate and finally persuasive. There have been many comparable social inventions, many of which have failed, as Communism, egalitarianism, and (...) perhaps socialism have all failed to date. The extraordinary thing about political liberalism is that it seems to have succeeded in its authors' initial hope for it. It may have helped end the turmoil occasioned by religious differences. Political liberalism has since expanded in various ways under other influences, and, if it were not for Islamic fundamentalism with its seemingly coercive theocratic program, we might no longer today associate religious conflict with the core of liberalism in its actual practice. (shrink)
In a book that challenges the most widely held ideas of why individuals engage in collective conflict, Russell Hardin offers a timely, crucial explanation of group action in its most destructive forms. Contrary to those observers who attribute group violence to irrationality, primordial instinct, or complex psychology, Hardin uncovers a systematic exploitation of self-interest in the underpinnings of group identification and collective violence. Using examples from Mafia vendettas to ethnic violence in places such as Bosnia and Rwanda, he (...) describes the social and economic circumstances that set this violence into motion. Hardin explains why hatred alone does not necessarily start wars but how leaders cultivate it to mobilize their people. He also reveals the thinking behind the preemptive strikes that contribute to much of the violence between groups, identifies the dangers of "particularist" communitarianism, and argues for government structures to prevent any ethnic or other group from having too much sway. Exploring conflict between groups such as Serbs and Croats, Hutu and Tutsi, Northern Irish Catholics and Protestants, Hardin vividly illustrates the danger that arises when individual and group interests merge. In these examples, groups of people have been governed by movements that managed to reflect their members' personal interests--mainly by striving for political and economic advances at the expense of other groups and by closing themselves off from society at large. The author concludes that we make a better and safer world if we design our social institutions to facilitate individual efforts to achieve personal goals than if we concentrate on the ethnic political makeup of our respective societies. (shrink)
Hardin presents an essentially economic account of what an individual can come to know and then applies this account to many areas of ordinary life: political participation, religious beliefs, popular knowledge of science, liberalism, ...
In simple action theory, when people choose between courses of action, they know what the outcome will be. When an individual is making a choice "against nature," such as switching on a light, that assumption may hold true. But in strategic interaction outcomes, indeterminacy is pervasive and often intractable. Whether one is choosing for oneself or making a choice about a policy matter, it is usually possible only to make a guess about the outcome, one based on anticipating what other (...) actors will do. In this book Russell Hardin asserts, in his characteristically clear and uncompromising prose, "Indeterminacy in contexts of strategic interaction... Is an issue that is constantly swept under the rug because it is often disruptive to pristine social theory. But the theory is fake: the indeterminacy is real."In the course of the book, Hardin thus outlines the various ways in which theorists from Hobbes to Rawls have gone wrong in denying or ignoring indeterminacy, and suggests how social theories would be enhanced--and how certain problems could be resolved effectively or successfully--if they assumed from the beginning that indeterminacy was the normal state of affairs, not the exception. Representing a bold challenge to widely held theoretical assumptions and habits of thought, Indeterminacy and Society will be debated across a range of fields including politics, law, philosophy, economics, and business management. (shrink)
This book tackles the problem of overpopulation with an honesty and fearlessness that is unrivalled. Hardin suggests radical approaches to overpopulation and considers the consequences. This book is an intellectual feast that will enrage, disturb, and challenge the reader at every page.
There are three centrally important ways in which norms have been elaborated and explained: in terms of religious or natural law strictures on behavior, in terms of constraints imposed by rationality, and, recently, in terms of agents' behavior in well‐defined games. The principal difficulty of a gaming account of norms is to show how the account explains motivations of individuals to follow the norms. This issue is examined in the context of small‐number norms and large‐number norms. †To contact the author, (...) please write to: Department of Politics, New York University, 19 W. 4th Street, New York, NY 10012; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Hardin discusses the forms that moral reasoning might take—from rationalist actor theory to Kantian proceduralism to ad hoc Kantianism—and the relation of Kant's dictum to the institutional nature of much of international affairs.
At the end of a thoughtful article on the future of nuclear war, Wiesner and York concluded that: "Both sides in the arms race are... confronted by the dilemma of steadily increasing military power and steadily decreasing national security. It is our considered professional judgment that this dilemma has no technical solution. If the great powers continue to look for solutions in the area of science and technology only, the result will be to worsen the situation.".
Many realists have maintained that the success of scientific theories can be explained only if they may be regarded as approximately true. Laurens Laudan has in turn contended that a necessary condition for a theory's being approximately true is that its central terms refer, and since many successful theories of the past have employed central terms which we now understand to be non-referential, realism cannot explain their success. The present paper argues that a realist can adopt a view of reference (...) according to which a theory might plausibly be said to be approximately true even though its central terms do not refer, or alternatively, he may construe reference in such a way as to assign reference to a range of successful older theories which includes Laudan's purported counterexamples. (shrink)
(Tye 2006) presents us with the following scenario: John and Jane are both stan- dard human visual perceivers (according to the Ishihara test or the Farnsworth test, for example) viewing the same surface of Munsell chip 527 in standard conditions of visual observation. The surface of the chip looks “true blue” to John (i.e., it looks blue not tinged with any other colour to John), and blue tinged with green to Jane.1 Tye then in eﬀect poses a multiple choice question.
Yellow sun in a blue sky. Green leaves caressed by the wind. Open the shutters of the eye, that window of the soul, and all such things are revealed. Nothing is more apparent than that things have colors, and that we have immediate perceptual access to those colors.
It can happen that a single surface S, viewed in normal conditions, looks pure blue (“true blue”) to observer John but looks blue tinged with green to a second observer, Jane, even though both are normal in the sense that they pass the standard psychophysical tests for color vision. Tye (2006a) ﬁnds this situation prima facie puzzling, and then oﬀers two diﬀerent “solutions” to the puzzle.1 The ﬁrst is that at least one observer misrepresents S’s color because, though normal in (...) the sense explained, she is not a Normal color observer: her color detection system is not operating in the current condition in the way that Mother Nature intended it to operate. His second solution involves the idea that Mother Nature designed our color detection systems to be reliable with respect to the detection of coarse-grained colors (e.g., blue, green, yellow, orange), but our capacity to represent the ﬁne-grained colors (e.g., true blue, blue tinged with green) is an undesigned spandrel. On this second solution, it is consistent with the variation between John and Jane that both represent the color of S in a way that complies with Mother Nature’s intentions: both represent S as exemplifying the coarse-grained color blue, and since (we may assume) S is in fact blue, both represent it veridically. Of course, they also represent ﬁne-grained colors of S, and, according to Tye, at most one of these representations is veridical (Tye says that only God knows which). But at the level of representation for which Mother Nature designed our color detection systems, both John and Jane (qua Normal observers) are reliable detectors. (shrink)
What ecological advantages do animals gain by being able to detect, extract and exploit wavelength information? What are the advantages of representing that information as hue qualities? The benefits of adding chromatic to achromatic vision, marginal in object detection, become apparent in object recognition and receiving biological signals. It is argued that this improved performance is a direct consequence of the fact that many animals' visual systems reduce wavelength information to combinations of four basic hues. This engenders a simple categorical (...) scheme that permits a rich amount of sensory information to be rapidly and efficiently employed by cognitive machinery of limited capacity. (shrink)
Criteria are given to characterize mature theories in contradistinction to developing theories. We lean heavily on the physical sciences. An established theory is defined as a mature one with known validity limits. The approximate truth of such theories is thereby given a quantitative character. Superseding theories do not falsify established theories because the latter are protected by their validity limits. This view of scientific realism leads to ontological levels and cumulativity of knowledge. It is applied to a defense of realism (...) against recent attacks by Laudan. (shrink)
The paradox of mass voting is not, generally speaking, matched by a paradoxical mass attempt to be politically well informed. As Converse underscored, most people are grossly politically ignorant—just as they would be if, as rational‐ignorance theory holds, they realized that their votes don't matter. Yet many millions of them contradict the theory by voting. This contradiction, and the illogical reasons people offer for voting, suggest that the logic of collective action does not come naturally to people. To equate public (...) ignorance with “rational ignorance,” then, attributes too much theoretical self‐consciousness to people. Even if their ignorance is not based on a grasp of the collective‐action problem, however, people's political ignorance is “rational”: but it is less a matter of calculating the low benefit likely to flow from one vote in a sea of millions, than of encountering the much higher cost of being well informed as compared to voting. As the high cost of becoming well informed appears likely to grow, it may be advisable to move off of the political agenda issues that have no clear continuum toward which a mostly ignorant median voter may gravitate. (shrink)
Color -order systems highlight certain features of color phenomenology while neglecting others. It is misleading to speak as if there were a single “psychological color space” that might be described by a rather simple formal structure. Criticisms of functionalism based on multiple realizations of a too-simple formal description of chromatic pheno-menal relations thus miss the mark. It is quite implausible that a functional system representing the full complexity of human color phenomenology should be realizable by radically different qualitative states.
The debate over compensation packages for top executives is discussed. Particular emphasis is placed on the decoupling of CEO pay and organizational performance. A contrast is drawn between firms that are owner-controlled and those that are manager-controlled. Owner-controlled firms tend to be more market-driven. In manager-controlled firms, however, ownership can become diluted to the point where decisions may not always be in the best interest of shareholders. The process of determining CEO compensation packages is examined, and special attention is given (...) to the handling of stock options. In order to stem the threat of increased government intervention, suggestions are made for increasing the leverage of compensation committees and of shareholders in general. (shrink)
Paul Churchland proposed a conceptual framework for translating reflectance profiles into a space he takes to be the color qualia space. It allows him to determine color metamers of spectral surface reflectances without reference to the characteristics of visual systems, claiming that the reflectance classes that it specifies correspond to visually determined metamers. We advance several objections to his method, show that a significant number of reflectance profiles are not placed into the space in agreement with the qualia solid, and (...) produce two sets of counterexamples to his claim for metamers. (shrink)
This paper discusses the impact of the so-called war on terrorism on civil liberties. The United States government in Madison’s plan was to be distrusted and hemmed in to protect citizens against it. The terrorist attacks of 2001 have seemingly licensed the US government to violate its Madisonian principles. While the current government asks for citizen trust, its actions justify distrust. The courts, which normally are the chief defenders of civil liberties, typically acquiesce in administration policies during emergencies, and it (...) has been during wartimes that the worst infringements of civil liberties have occurred. (shrink)
The moral heart of normative law and economics is efficiency, especially dynamic efficiency that takes incentive effects into account. In the economic theory, justificatory argument is inherently at the institutional- or rule-level, not an the individual- or case-level. InMarkets, Morals, and the Law Jules Coleman argues against the efficiency theory on normative grounds. Although he strongly asserts the need to view law institutionally, he frequently grounds his criticisms of law and economics in arguments from little more than direct moral intuition (...) about individual cases. He evidently holds that consent provides a better normative basis for law than does efficiency and he uses consent arguments to attack recommendations from scholars in law and economics. His own chief contribution, however, is to law and economics rather than to any alternative theory. (shrink)
Concern with material equality as the central form of distributive justice is a very modern idea. Distributive justice for Aristotle and many other writers for millennia after him was a matter of distributing what each ought to get from merit or desert in some sense. Many, such as Hume, thought material equality a pernicious idea. In the medieval village life of Bodo, villagers knew enough about each other to govern relations through norms, including, when necessary, a norm of charity. In (...) more complex modern societies, economic destitution cannot so well be handled by individual charity, but now it can be handled by states. Hence, we begin to conceive of the idea of distributive justice as driven essentially by concern for material equality. The difference in state capacities is largely epistemological: states today can know much more about their citizens. (shrink)
David Gauthier's Morals by Agreement presents a partial theory of distributive justice. It is partial because it applies only to the distribution of gains from joint endeavors, or what we may call the ‘social surplus’ from cooperation. This surplus is the benefit we receive from cooperation insofar as this is greater than what we might have produced through individual efforts without interaction with others. The central core of Gauthier's theory of distributive justice is his bargaining theory of ‘minimax relative concession’ (...) or MRC. Whether his theory is compelling turns essentially on whether MRC is workable and compelling. It is this issue that I wish to address. (shrink)