Rationality, markets, and morals: RMM Band 4 (2013)

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    Michael Chwe: Jane Austen, Game Theorist
    (2013) Lotzen, Katharina; Wiese, Harald
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    Affective Social Ties without the Need to Belong?
    (2013) Greiff, Matthias
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    Commitment and Goals
    (2013) Peacock, Mark
    In this Comment, I examine Christoph Hanisch's recent contribution to this journal. In commenting on Hanisch's essay, I offer an interpretation of Amartya Sen's notion of `commitment' which makes committed choices both uncontroversial and quotidian. This interpretation contrasts with those which see some of Sen's pronouncements on commitment to be obviously false, counterintuitive or psychologically impossible.
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    Social Contract Theory Should Be Abandoned
    (2013) Frederick, Danny
    I argue that social-contract theory cannot succeed because reasonable people may always disagree, and that social-contract theory is irrelevant to the problem of the legitimacy of a form of government or of a system of moral rules. I note the weakness of the appeal to implicit agreement, the conflation of legitimacy with stability, the undesirability of `public justification' and the apparent blindness to the evolutionary critical-rationalist approach of Hayek and Popper. I employ that approach to sketch answers to the theoretical, historical and practical questions about the legitimacy of government or of systems of moral rules.
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    Nozick’s Proviso: Misunderstood and Misappropriated
    (2013) Wündisch, Joachim
    After almost forty years, Robert Nozick's seminal right-libertarian classic Anarchy, State, and Utopia continues to stand at the center of much of the discussion regarding property and its initial acquisition. Nozick's most important contribution to that discussion is the formulation of his entitlement theory. Although the theory has received nearly unparalleled attention, its interpreters have misunderstood and misappropriated its most essential part: Nozick's proviso. This paper presents a brief selection of the most representative interpretations of Nozick's proviso, criticizes them, offers a textually well founded alternative reading of the proviso, and discusses its implications for Nozick's entitlement theory as well as right-libertarian theories of property more generally.
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    A Governing Convention?
    (2013) Vanderschraaf, Peter
    In this essay I argue that one can understand the relationship between those who rule and those who are ruled in civil society as an implicit contractual relationship or contract by convention. I use variations of the extensive form Trust Game to summarize the structures of alternative forms of contracts, and apply these variations to model the relationship between the rulers and those under their rule. One of these variations, the Irrevocable Sovereignty Game, summarizes Hobbes' main argument for why it is conceptually impossible for a contract to exist between a sovereign and the subjects under its rule. I argue that Hobbes' argument presupposes a common understanding of a contract as a set of promises enforceable by a third party, such as a legally binding agreement. I use another variation of the Trust Game, the Repeatable Sovereignty Game, to show that rulers and ruled can establish and maintain a convention requiring the ruled to obey their rulers' commands in return for these rulers providing the ruled satisfactory benefits. In effect, the ruled and their rulers create an implicit contract that is self-enforcing rather than an explicit contract requiring third-party enforcement. I argue that this idea of a governing convention has roots in David Hume's discussions of government, and is even implicit in Hobbes' own treatment of sovereignty.
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    Contractarianism as a Broad Church
    (2013) Sugden, Robert
    I defend the claim, made in a previous paper, that `a Humean can be a contractarian', against the criticisms of Anthony de Jasay. Jasay makes a categorical distinction between `ordered anarchy' (which he associates with Hume) and `social contract theory'. I argue that Hume's political position was conservative, not anarchist. On Hume's analysis, a convention is an implicit agreement; the concept of convention is more general than, rather than distinct from, that of agreement by exchange of promises. Hume justifies political obligation by treating established forms of government as conventions in this sense.
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    Invisible Hand Processes and the Theory of Money
    (2013) Steiner, Hillel
    This paper explores, and rejects, the plausibility--advanced by a number of economists and recently re-affirmed by Robert Nozick--of employing an `invisible hand explanation' to account for the existence of money as a medium of exchange. It argues that money is not necessarily more efficient than barter as a means of effecting a multiplicity of desired exchanges, and that its use is not a dominant strategy under standard theoretical conditions of individual rational choice.
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    Social Contract: The Last Word in Moral Theories
    (2013) Narveson, Jan
    Most meta-ethical theories fail either for lack of real content or because they fail to make needed distinctions, or to give sufficient account of what a moral theory is about. Positing that values are intuited is useless or worse, since the very problem that gives rise to the need for morals is that people's values vary, greatly, from one to another, thus leading to conflict, and `intuition' is no basis for interpersonal agreement if we have initial disagreement--as we surely seem to do. Conflicts can, of course, be steamrollered when the philosopher proposes that everybody should do things his way. But the trouble is that people may not (almost certainly will not) have motivation to conform to what the philosopher proposes. Yet motivation is of the essence. A moral theory that everyone is free to recognize with no discernible effects on his behavior is useless. The `Social Contract' idea is, very simply, to account for morals by starting with the actual motivations and deliberations of individuals, then considering the effect of placing such individuals in a society of other, especially differing ones. We play our cards right if, in some relevant and useful sense, everyone can expect to do better by embracing moral constraints than not. Then the motivation problem is squarely faced from the start. The idea is that it will transfer to morals by virtue of the relations we can expect to have in society, given our various interests. This essay explores these issues, explaining why there is simply no alternative to the social contract idea.
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    Conduct and Contract
    (2013) de Jasay, Anthony
    Political philosophy relies on three alternative types of theory to explain social order. The first, is order anarchy, built on the system of spontaneous Humean conventions. They are equilibria, self-enforcing or enforced by the participants' own contingent strategies and involve no central, specialised enforcer. The second type is contractarianism. This paper contends that its name is a misnomer hiding a redundancy. The third type is social contract theory, where there is unanimous commitment to submit to non-unanimous collective choices of certain kinds or reached by certain rules. The paper suggests that social contract theories serve mainly to render acquiescence in political obedience more palatable.
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    Negative Goals and Identity: Revisiting Sen’s Critique of Homo Economicus
    (2013) Hanisch, Christoph
    Sen's critique of the homo economicus conception of choice asserts that agents who `displace' their goals, and instead choose on the basis of others', are not therefore irrational. I first defend Sen against the objection that violations of "self-goal choice" undermine coherent deliberation. My critique of Sen then introduces the notion of `negative goals' and shows that the process of adopting others' aims remains constrained by those `goals' that determine the spectrum of actions that an agent considers permissible. Only on rare occasions are we pushed to violate even these negative goals that play a central role for our identities.
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    Fairness That Money Can Buy. Procedural Egalitarianism in Practice
    (2013) Güth, Werner; Kliemt, Hartmut
    Contrary to communitarian market criticism institutions relying on money and bidding can strengthen faculties of `self-governance'. Securing procedurally egalitarian bidding on the basis of declared monetary evaluations guarantees that all realized changes of a status quo are in an `objective' (pecuniary) sense equally advantageous for all members of the community. We show how to use this idea in the context of Elinor Ostrom type common(s) projects. Empirical evidence on `procedurally fair bidding' is presented. The practical scope and limits of procedural egalitarianism need further empirical exploration but money may be the best means to express moral values in `communitarian consent'.
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    Achieving Pareto-Optimality: Invisible Hands, Social Contracts, and Rational Deliberation
    (2013) Gauthier, David
    I begin with two simple, similar interactions. In one, maximizing agents will reach a Pareto-optimal equilibrium, in the other, they won't. The first shows the working of the Invisible Hand; the second, its limitations. Using other simple interactions in which equilibrium and P-optimality are incompatible, I argue that the rational outcome of interaction answers to optimality rather than maximization, and requires agents to cooperate in realizing an agreed outcome, rather than to seek their best reply to their fellows. The terms of cooperation are set by a social contract, which coordinates choices to achieve a Pareto-optimum when the Invisible Hand is absent.
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    Why the Conventionalist Needs the Social Contract (and Vice Versa)
    (2013) Gaus, Gerald
    The recent renaissance of work on conventions, informal institutions, and social norms has reminded us that between the state and individual choice is a network of informal social rules that are the foundation of our cooperative social life. However, even those who appreciate the importance of social norms are reluctant to say that they are about real morality. The first part of the essay examines why this is so. The problem, I suggest, is a widely-embraced view according to which moral judgment is an individual decision about a type of truth that is largely independent of social facts. I show that this popular conception undermines effective social norms and moral conventions. The second part of the essay analyzes the conditions under which effective conventions can be made consistent with diverse individual judgments as to what is morally acceptable--and so conventions can be understood to concern what is genuinely moral. The key, I argue, is the idea of a publicly justified morality as modeled by a hypothetical social contract.
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    External Validity and the New Inductivism in Experimental Economics
    (2013) Gadenne, Volker
    The idea of external validity, which is well-known in the social sciences, has recently also been emphasized in experimental economics. It has been argued that external validity is an important criterion in experimental research, which has been neglected by philosophy of science. In connection with this criterion, a methodology has been advanced in which inductive generalization and analogical inference play a central role. The hypotheticodeductive methodology is said to be untenable, or at least insufficient. In this paper, hypothetico-deductivism is defended. The idea of external validity, and the new plea for inductivism, is critically discussed. It is pointed out that the fundamental problems of inductivism are still unsolved. The criterion of external validity is superfluous and misleading. And the problems in experimental research associated with external validity can well be solved on the basis of deductivism.
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    Hume and the Social Contract. A Systematic Evaluation
    (2013) Chwaszcza, Christine
    The article systematically explores the compatibility of Hume's political philosophy and contractarianism by reconstructing Hume's criticism of the idea of a social contract. In a nutshell, the dispute concerns the theoretical reconstruction of the establishment and maintenance of normative institutions by individual behavior. At the center of the dispute are questions concerning the philosophical analysis of the normative force of obligatory norms, and the theoretical reconstruction of individual persons' reasons--or motives--for following them. The main part of the article is dedicated to the reconstruction of the philosophical motivations behind the different positions. I will contrast contractarian idealism as a theoretical approach for the study of normative phenomena with Hume's empiricist approach. I will also spell out the metaethical differences between the idea of a hypothetical contract and Hume's rule-consequentialist reconstruction of the source of social and political obligations. Returning to the question of whether one can be both a contractarian and a Humean, the different implications of the two approaches for the theoretical understanding of normative rule-following will be presented. The conclusion is that one cannot be both a contractarian and a Humean. The article ends with a defense of the foregoing analysis against two objections.