Wednesday, October 27, 2010

James D. Morrow. 1999. The Strategic Setting of Choices: Signaling, Commitment, and Negotiation in International Politics

James D. Morrow, “The Strategic Setting of Choices: Signaling, Commitment, and Negotiation in International Politics,” in Lake and Powell, Strategic Choice, pp. 77-114.

Summary by Taylor

Main Point: Both strategic settings and preferences determine actors’ choices, and the choices of many actors determine outcomes.  Since the choices of other actors affect the final result, an actor cannot simply chose a course that will lead to its desired outcome.  From this, three different strategic problems (among others) arise: signaling, commitment, and bargaining. Understanding domestic politics is necessary to understanding strategic choice.

James Fearon. 1998. Bargaining, Enforcement, and International Cooperation

James Fearon, “Bargaining, Enforcement, and International Cooperation,” International Organization, 52, 2 (Spring 1998), pp. 269-305.

Summary by Adi

Background: Traditional cooperation theory suggests that different issue areas in international politics can be characterized by different strategic structures (for example, some cooperation issues can be modeled as a coordination game, while others may resemble the Prisoner’s Dilemma). In addition, a central claim of standard cooperation theory concerns international institutions and the shadow of the future: by providing a framework for regular and repeated interaction, channeling information to concerned parties, and lowering the transaction costs of monitoring, international institutions lengthen the shadow of the future, and thereby make cooperation more likely (since states with longer time-horizons will care relatively more about the future payoffs from cooperation, and since the prospect of extended interaction makes the threat of retaliation a meaningful deterrent to cheating).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Samuel Popkin. 1979. The Rational Peasant: The Political Economy of Rural Society in Vietnam

Samuel Popkin. 1979. The Rational Peasant: The Political Economy of Rural Society in Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press. Chapter 2 (“The Political Economy of Peasant Society”), particularly pp. 35-72 (“Villages”).

Protests are collective actions and depend on the ability of a group or class to organize and make demands. Many movements are a reflection of peasants' growing ability to organize and struggle for rights and privileges previously denied them. Peasant struggles are frequently battles to tame markets and bureaucracies and not movements to restore "traditional" systems.

There is evidence of the struggle to minimize individual shares of external demands on the village in the tax burdens as well as military draft. Tax systems usually emphasized equal payments by all without standard deductions, floors, or progressive rules. It was also common for labor demands and military drafts to be pushed onto the poorer villagers.

The use of common resources was often restricted to the more privileged or well-endowed villagers. Evidence shows that in times of economic need, poorer peasants did not receive welfare from the village, but were instead excluded from it altogether. In many places smallholders, cotters, landless laborers, lodgers, servants and hired hands were excluded from active participation in the management of the community and the privileges that accompanied participation.

Limited and specified reciprocities, low levels of welfare and insurance, and the prevalence of market-determined credit rates (usury for the landless), all challenged the basis of moral economy claims about village welfare and insurance systems. This means that the decay of traditional welfare functions under the stress of capitalism and colonialism does not alone account for the rise of new political and religious movements.

Officeholding offers power, prestige, and a way to make money or protect fortunes; village council members can collude with one another to their common advantage at the expense of the village.The feasts and expenditures required of officials are investments, the costs of which prevent many villagers from assuming and role in village leadership or decision-making, but the investment oftentimes pays off.

Dependence of a tenant on a landlord meant subjugation; it is not the case that if a patron guarantees the traditional subsistence level, peasants will cede him continuous legitimacy. Subsistence was not fixed at a culturally given level; economic shares are based on the terms of exchange and protest frequently occurs when the balance of exchange is improving in favor of the tenant.

The state and the open market can be allies to tenants against the monopoly of power help by landlords. The growth of the market economy does not necessarily result in a decline in peasant welfare.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Friedrich Engels. 1884. The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State

Friedrich Engels. 1884. “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.” Part IX §3-4.

The state arose from the need to keep class antagonisms in check, but also arose in the thick of the fight between the classes; it is normally the state of the most powerful, economically ruling class, which by its means becomes also the politically ruling class, and so acquires new means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed class.

Political recognition of property differences is marks a low stage in the development of the state. As long as the oppressed class—in his case, the proletariat—is not yet ripe for its self-liberation, its majority will recognize the existing order of society as the only possible one.

Civilization is founded on the exploitation of one class by another class as in the example of slave labor as the dominant form of production. The society which organizes production anew on the basis of free and equal association of the producers will put the whole state machinery where it will then belong—into the museum of antiquities, next to the spinning wheel and the bronze ax.

Friedrich Engels. 1880. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Friedrich Engels. 1880. “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.” Part III.

From the materialist conception of history, the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought in the changes in modes of production and exchange, the economics of each particular epoch.

The perfecting of machinery is making human labor superfluous. Machinery becomes the most powerful weapon in the war of capital against the working-class; that the instruments of labor constantly tear the means of subsistence out of the hands of the laborer; that the very product of the worker is turned into an instrument for his subjugation.

But the perfecting of machinery also gluts the market and the extension of the markets cannot keep pace with the extension of production. Products accumulate, as multitudinous as they are unsaleable, commerce stills, the mass of the workers are in want of the means of subsistence, because they have produced too much of the means of subsistence, and the stagnation wastes and destroys productive forces until the accumulated mass of commodities finally filter off or depreciated in value.

When economic bankruptcy recurs regularly every 10 years because of capitalism, people will burst free of the bonds that the capitalist mode of production had imposed upon them and society will seize the means of production. Men will reorganize the means of production, classes will fall away, and government will be obsolete.

Fiona McGillivray and Alastair Smith. 2005. The Impact of Leadership Turnover and Domestic Institutions on International Cooperation

Fiona McGillivray and Alastair Smith, “The Impact of Leadership Turnover and Domestic Institutions on International Cooperation,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 49 (5) (October 2005), pp. 639-660.

The differences in cooperation between two nations can be attributed to the domestic institutions of those nations if actors within a nation employ leader-specific punishment strategies. The leader of Nation A can punish the leader of Nation B for Nation B's non-cooperative policies by refusing to cooperate with Nation B until the leader is replaced. The citizens of Nation B will lose out on cooperative benefits and have an incentive to remove the non-cooperative leader. Then in cases where leader removal is easy, as in the case of large winning coalition systems such as democracies, leaders will have reduced incentives to defect and states can cooperate deeply. Instances of cooperation breakdown between such nations are rare. In contrast, when one of the nations attempting to reach agreement has a high cost for leader removal, cooperation is shallow. Instances of cheating lead to prolonged periods of non-cooperation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

James Fearon and Alexander Wendt. 2002. Rationalism v. Constructivism: A Skeptical View

James Fearon and Alexander Wendt, “Rationalism v. Constructivism: A Skeptical View,” in Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse, and Beth Simmons, Handbook of International Relations (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2002), pp.52-72.

Summary by Taylor

Main Argument: The “debate” between rationalism and constructivism as it is often conceptualized is a debate over how to study IR, not a debate about IR.  Instead, the most interesting research is likely to be work that ignores zero-sum interpretations of their relationships and instead directly engages questions that cut across the rationalist/constructivist boundaries. 

Arthur A. Stein. 1982. When Misperception Matters

Arthur A. Stein, “When Misperception Matters,” World Politics 34, 4 (July 1982), pp. 505-526.

Summary by David

Question: What impact does misperception have on the occurrence of war?

Main point: [M]isperception does not always affect an actor's choices or determine outcome …when misperception does have such effects, it is in a narrow range of circumstances; and that misperception can lead to cooperation as well as to conflict

Michael J. Hiscox. 2001. Inter-Industry Factor Mobility and the Politics of Trade

Michael J. Hiscox, “Inter-Industry Factor Mobility and the Politics of Trade,” International Organization, 55, 1 (Winter 2001), pp. 1-46.

Hiscox uses the standard economic theory of trade to highlight the importance of inter-industry factor mobility. For owners of factors of production (land, labor, and capital) that can move between industries in the domestic economy, the income effects of trade and divide individuals along class lines, setting owners of different factors at odds with each other regardless of the industry in which they are employed. When the factors are immobile between industries, the effects of trade divide individuals along industry lines, setting owners of the same factor in different industries (labor in the steel and aircraft industries, for example) at odds with each other over policy. 

He relies on the measurements of the difference between rates of return for factors employed in different industries. If a factor is highly mobile, rate-of-return differentials should be arbitraged away by factor movement; smaller differentials indicate higher mobility. 

Technological innovations and regulations profoundly affect inter-industry factor mobility and that is reflected in the changes in wage differentials within countries over time. Initially,the rise of machine-manufacturing created demand for unskilled workers who could shift between manufacturing industries and the lifing of legal restrictions on factor movement and deregulation lowered the costs of factor movement. Recent trends with a growing emphasis on specialized human capital has been increasing the importance place on specialized physical capital and knowledge and, thus, increased wage differentials.

In terms of mapping class preferences over trade, classes that own scarce resources should promote a protectionist platform while classes that own abundant factors should promote a free-trade platform. At low levels of mobility, Ricardo-Viner effects tie factor returns more closely to the fortunes of each industry, giving labor unions and management associations an incentive to lobby for trade policies that will confer rents by either limiting import competition or boosting exports. At high levels of mobility, industry rents are eliminated, and Stolper-Samuelson effects mean that any benefit tobe had from lobbying will be dispersed among all other owners of the same factor.

Robert Putnam. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy

Robert Putnam. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter 6 (“Social Capital and Institutional Success”), particularly pp. 167‐185.

Cooperation amongst individuals requires trust. The trust is social capital that can be lent to individuals within the same social network in order to facilitate collective action. Forms of social capital, such as trust, social norms, and networks, increase with use and diminish with disuse. Personal trust translates into social trust in modern settings through the norms of reciprocity and networks of civic engagement. Horizontal networks are more conducive to solving collective action problems than vertical networks because subordinates are less able to punish a superior for defection.

Strategic behaviors of individuals are determined by the society in which they operate. Path dependence can produce durable difference in performance between two societies, even when the formal institutions, resources, and individual preferences are similar.

Social context and history condition the effectiveness of institutions. Building social capital is the key to making democracy work.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Miles Kahler. 1998. Rationality in International Relations

Miles Kahler, “Rationality in International Relations,” International Organization 52, 4 (Autumn 1998), pp. 919-941.

Rational action is determined by the instrumental pursuit of future outcomes. Rational and nonrational accounts share the same methodological shortcomings in that they aggregate from individual to collectivity. For some, the absence of a theory of beliefs and preferences is a failure of explanation within rational choice models that robs it of predictive power.

Realism was born out of post-war skepticism toward the power of reason. Psychoanalysis was employed to examine decision-making behavior that appeared to violate the canons of rationality by including personality variables, but it is problematic to extrapolate evidence from experimental and clinical settings to the environment of foreign policy and domestic politics. Cognitive psychology finds that preexisting beliefs drives behavior by influencing how new information is processed. Sociological approaches to international relations argue agents, whether individuals or states, are shaped profoundly by a dense institutional environment. Rational institutionalist approach in which foreign policy actions from individual rational actors are constrained by institutions leaves open the question of whether institutions are exogenous or endogenous and when political actors will opt for institutional change rather than change within institutions.

Robert Jervis. 1968. Hypotheses on Misperception

Robert Jervis, “Hypotheses on Misperception,” World Politics 20, 3 (April 1968), pp. 454-79.

Hypotheses: 1) Decision-makers tend to fit data into existing theories and images. 2) A theory will have greater impact on an actor's interpretation of information the greater the ambiguity of the data and the higher the degree of confidence with which the actor holds the theory.

An event is more apt to shape present perceptions if it occurred in the recent rather than the remote past. Information that supports a hypothesis could equally likely support a different hypothesis.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jeffry A. Frieden and Ronald Rogowski. 1996. The Impact of the International Economy on National Policies: An Analytical Overview,

Jeffry A. Frieden and Ronald Rogowski, “The Impact of the International Economy on National Policies: An Analytical Overview,” in Robert O. Keohane and Helen V. Milner, eds., Internationalization and Domestic Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 25-47.

The independent variables in the analysis are the exogenous changes in costs or regards of international economic exchange. The dependent variables are:

1. the policy preferences of relevant socioeconomic and political agents within countries toward national policies and national policy-making institutions.
2. given these preferences, the adoption or revolution of national policies and of national policy institutions
3. given preferences, policies, and institutions, the relationship between a given set of institutions and a given set of policies.

The conjecture is that an exogenous easing of international trade will, ceteris paribus:

1. increase pressure within each country to liberalize international trade and payments, including dismantling structural impediments to trade
2. create such broad political pressure as an increasing function of the degree to which the national economy was previously closed
3. generate such aggregate pressure for change as an increasing function of the degree to which the economy has readily exploitable gains from trade available (such as high levels of total factor productivity).

On average, democratic regimes should liberalize more readily.
Among equally democratic regimes, and among different elective bodies within the same country, the tendency to liberalize should increase as the number of distinct constituencies decreases.
Ceteris paribus, the likelihood of liberalization should decline with increasing partisan fragmentation.

Samuel P. Huntington. 1996. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

Samuel P. Huntington. 1996. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon & Schuster. Chapter 1 §1‐2 (“The New Era in World Politics”); Chapter 2 §1 (“Civilizations in History and Today”); and Chapter 6 (“The Cultural Reconfiguration of Global Politics”).

A civilization is the broadest cultural identity. Civilizations evolve and endure.

Cultural identity defines a state's place in world politics, its friends, and its enemies. Modernization after the Cold War has reconfigured global politics along cultural lines. Cultural commonality facilitates cooperation and cohesion among people and cultural differences promote cleaves and conflicts.

Cleft countries bestride the fault lines between civilizations. A torn coutry has a single predominant culture which places it in one civilization but its leaders want to shift it to another civilization.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Robert Putnam. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy

Robert Putnam. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter 6 (“Social Capital and Institutional Success”), particularly pp. 167‐185.

Cooperation amongst individuals requires trust. The trust is social capital that can be lent to individuals within the same social network in order to facilitate collective action. Forms of social capital, such as trust, social norms, and networks, increase with use and diminish with disuse. Personal trust translates into social trust in modern settings through the norms of reciprocity and networks of civic engagement. Horizontal networks are more conducive to solving collective action problems than vertical networks because subordinates are less able to punish a superior for defection.

Strategic behaviors of individuals are determined by the society in which they operate. Path dependence can produce durable difference in performance between two societies, even when the formal institutions, resources, and individual preferences are similar.

Social context and history condition the effectiveness of institutions. Building social capital is the key to making democracy work.

James C. Scott. 1976. The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia

James C. Scott. 1976. The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press. Chapter 1 (“Introduction”).

The subsistence ethic is placed at the center of the analysis of peasant politics. The "safety-first" principle underpins many of the technical, social, and moral arrangements of precapitalist agrarian orders. Redistributive mechanisms in villages are a form of insurance where starvation is a real and present danger to all. Subsistence security and the subsistence ethic were socially experienced as patterns of moral rights or expectations; peasants should care more about what is left of their agricultural yields than what is taken.

The imposition of capitalism led land-owners to claim harvest based on what the market would bear rather than what the tenants needed. The total absence of any provision for the maintenance of a minimal income incited peasant protests.

Harry Eckstein. 1988. A Culturalist Theory of Political Change

Harry Eckstein. “A Culturalist Theory of Political Change.” American Political Science Review 82 (September 1988), 789‐804.

Political culturist approach has been criticized for explaining political changes in an ad hoc and post hoc manner because its assumptions generally lead to an expectation of cultural continuity. This article attempts to initiate the development of the theory behind culturalism.

People's cultures and orientations should be stable, but with variability. No variability suggests that the processing of experiences is fixed at the biological level. Orientations are accumulated over time from external socializers where early learning filters later learning.

More modern societies increase the frequency of novel situations people encounter and thus make culture more flexible. There should be oriental inertia even after traumatic socioeconomic change, especially among older generations with more ingrained perceptions that invest new experiences with accustomed meaning.

After sociopolitical trauma, ritual conformity to authority (compliance without commitment) should be more prevalent in cases in which the former political cultures and subcultures prescribe high compliance. Alternatively, people might retreat into smaller parochial units that serve as refuges from discontinuity in society.

Culture must be learned on a comprehensive scale and although revolutionary teaching can play a role in shaping the young, it can't replace socialization in small parochial units. Cultural inertia will turn change into pattern maintenance.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chaim D. Kaufman and Robert A. Pape. 1999. Explaining Costly International Moral Action

Chaim D. Kaufman and Robert A. Pape, “Explaining Costly International Moral Action,” International Organization, 53, 4 (Autumn 1999), pp. 631-668.

The British campaign against the Atlantic slave trade highlights the importance of domestic politics. The cause of the abolitionist movement was initially motivated by religious concern for the nation's moral survival. But the movement was institutionalized over time; the government's inability to focus on other issues such as free trade kept the abolitionist movement at the forefront of political concerns.

In this article, international moral action is justified on moral grounds and also, on balance, injures the material interests of the citizens of the acting state. The proposed model is one of costly international moral action that assigns major roles to ideas and domestic politics, but does not rely on transnational links or cosmpolitan ethics. Costly international moral action results from the belief that the home nation is itself corrupt and needs reform so that short-run material benefits can be outweighed by long-term virtuousity.

Theory presented here supports moral actions pioneered unilaterally by a single powerful state rather than multilateral agreement and driven internally in that state than as a result of the spread of an international moral consensus.

Jack S. Levy. 1997. Prospect Theory, Rational Choice, and International Relations

Jack S. Levy, “Prospect Theory, Rational Choice, and International Relations,” International Studies Quarterly, 41, 1 (March 1997), pp. 87-112.

Prospect theory is a theory of choice under conditions of risk--of the evaluation of prospects, not of the editing of choices. Findings of reference dependence, the endowment effect, the reflection effect, framing effects and preference reversals, and nonlinear responses to probabilities in individual choice contradict expected-utility choice theory. Prospect theory is an alternative theory constructed to integrate anomalies in expected-utility theory to form a more accurate theory of choice. The main problem of prospect theory is that it emerges from experimental research in highly structured laboratory settings with static conditions of risk in non-interactive settings, none of which hold in the real world. Moreover, individual actions do not necessarily parallel the actions of collective groups of people. It is also difficult to determine apriori which anomalies of expected-utility choice theory are operating in a given situation, so prospect theory has little predictive value. More theoretical foundations rather than empirical evidence would benefit prospect theory.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stephen D. Krasner. 1999. Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy

Stephen D. Krasner. Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), pp. 1-42.

Westphalian and international legal sovereignty are examples of organized hypocrisy. Imposition can only occur when interests are different and power asymmetries high. Coercion can take place if preferences of rulers are different and if there are asymmetries of power, but the asymmetries are less than for imposition. Conventions can only occur if rulers have complementary or identical interests. Contracts are like conventions, but contingent on cooperation.

Christian Reus-Smit. 1997. The Constitutional Structure of International Society and the Nature of Fundamental Institutions

Christian Reus-Smit, “The Constitutional Structure of International Society and the Nature of Fundamental Institutions,” International Organization 51, 4 (Autumn 1997), pp. 555-89.

Fundamental institutions are grounded in the underlying normative foundations of international society. Constitutional structures are ensembles of a shared belief about the moral purpose of centralized political organization, an organizing principle of sovereignty, and a norm of pure procedural justice.

States adopt different institutional practices because different norms define the cognitive horizons of institutional architects, thus shaping the institutional architecture, as well as the primary social values institutions are intended to embody.

The modern state principle that social rules should be authored by those subject to them gave rise to multilateral forms of rule determination and the precept that tules should be equally applicable to all subjects warranted the formal codification of contractual international law to ensure the universality and reciprocity of international regulations.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hein Goemans. 2006. Bounded Communities: Territoriality, Territorial Attachment, and Conflict

Hein Goemans, “Bounded Communities: Territoriality, Territorial Attachment, and Conflict,” in Miles Kahler and Barbara Walter, eds., Territoriality and Conflict in an Era of Globalization (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 25-61.

Homeland is specified by territory rather than language, cultural, ethnic, or other ties. Such a definition allows coordination between the leaders and subjects of a homeland to facilitate a collective defense. The specification of a homeland relies on focal principles with wide applicability that are simple enough to be interpreted by all concerned. The focal principles chosen depend first on enforcement cost, a leader's self-interested motives, contingencies that may arise, and common knowledge such as historical information.

Homeland defined by focal principles should be indivisible. States should be willing to claim and fight for territory fitting its focal principles. Newly drawn boundaries should follow focal principles rather than military conquest.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Brian M. Downing. 1992. The Military Revolution and Political Change: Origins of Democracy and Autocracy in Early Modern Europe

Brian M. Downing. 1992. The Military Revolution and Political Change: Origins of Democracy and Autocracy in Early Modern Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapters 1 (“Introduction”), entire, and 10 (“Conclusions”), particularly pp. 239-242, 246-251.
Political

The representative assemblies of late medieval Europe constituted a basis for liberal democracy. A dangerous military situation precludes or destroys constitutionalism and fosters an authoritarian, military-bureaucratic state, especially when countries rely on domestic resources to finance modern armies.

William H. Riker. 1964. Federalism: Origin, Operation, Significance

William H. Riker. 1964. Federalism: Origin, Operation, Significance. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. Chapter 2 (“The Origins and Purposes of Federalism”), particularly pp. 11-16.

The first condition of federalism is the willingness of politicians to bargain to expand territorial control. The second is the the acceptance of the bargain by rulers of constituent units in response to some external military-diplomatic threat or opportunity.

The circumstances that have resulted in federal rather than unitary constitutions can be characterized by a recognized need for military-diplomatic unity and an unwillingness or inability of national leaders to impose centralization by force.

Military and expansion conditions are necessary to the occurrence of federalism.

Stephen M. Walt. 1987. The Origins of Alliances

Stephen M. Walt. 1987. The Origins of Alliances. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Chapter 2 (“Explaining Alliance Formation”), particularly pp. 17-40.

Alliances can respond to a threat by either balancing or bandwagoning. Whether states choose to bandwagon or balance depends on the aggressive states' aggregate power, geographic proximity, offensive powers, and intentions. Stronger states should have more tendencies to balance. Greater probabilities of allied support increase tendencies to balance. Unalterably aggressive states should provoke balancing. Nations should bandwagon with likely war-time victors. Security considerations take precedence over ideological ones and ideologically based alliances are unlikely to survive when more pragmatic interests intrude.

David R. Mayhew. 1974. Congress: The Electoral Connection

David R. Mayhew. 1974. Congress: The Electoral Connection. New Haven: Yale University Press. Pp. 1-7, 13-19, 81-105.

Scrutiny of purposive behavior offers the best route to understanding the U.S. Congress. Congressmen are motivated by reelection. Allocation of goods to one congressman does not usually reduce the allocation of goods to another; as such, there is little incentive to reform the House or Senate. There is minimal party pressure. Incumbent congressmen care more about keeping their jobs than about party lines.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

R. Harrison Wagner. War and the State

R. Harrison Wagner. War and the State. Chapter 1, The Theory of International Politics.

Realists draw conclusions that do not follow from premises. Offensive Realists believe that an anarchic international community will lead to aggressions by states attempting to maintain security and promote the idea of a world government to maintain order. Defensive Realists believe that an an anarchic international community will lead to defensive military stances rather than aggression. All structural Realists agree that interstate wars will continue to occur as long as there is no world government.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Imre Lakatos. 1970. Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes

Imre Lakatos. 1970. “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.” In Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, edited by Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave, 91-195. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Parts 1, 3.0, 3a-b, 3d.0, 3d.4, and 4.

The history of science has been and should be a history of competing research program (or, if you wish, ‘paradigms’), but it has not been and must not become a succession of periods of normal science: the sooner competition starts, the better for progress. ‘Theoretical pluralism’ is better than ‘theoretical monism.’ But budding research programs should be given time to develop and compete with more established, powerful rivals. Purely negative, destructive criticism, like ‘refutation’ or demonstration of an inconsistency does not eliminate a program. 

Thomas S. Kuhn. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Thomas S. Kuhn. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2d ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Chapters 2, 4, 6-8, 12.

The transition from criticism to commitment marks the point where progress—and ‘normal’ science—begins. The idea that on ‘refutation’ one can demand the rejection, the elimination of a theory, is ‘na├»ve’ falsificationism. There can be no logic, only psychology of discovery. Anomalies, inconsistencies always abound in science; by ensuring that the paradigm will not be too easily surrendered, resistance guarantees that scientists will not be lightly distracted and that the anomalies that lead to paradigm change will penetrate existing knowledge to the core.  In ‘normal’ periods the dominant paradigm secures a pattern of growth, which is only overthrown by a ‘crisis.’ 

Karl R. Popper. 1968. The Logic of Scientific Discovery

Karl R. Popper. 1968. The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 2d ed. New York: Harper & Row. Chapters 1.0-1.1, 1-3-1.8, 3.0, 3.12, and 3.16.

Intellectual honesty does not consist in trying to entrench or establish one’s position by proving (or probabilifying) it—intellectual honesty consists rather in specifying precisely the conditions under which one is willing to give up one’s position. The history of science has been and should be a history of competing research programs/paradigms, which is good for progress.