Wars not rational?

 
 
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bernard
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14 March 2007 22:30
 

Even though many deaths were caused by irrationality, aren't many of them effectively driven by economical reasons (i.e. expansion)? As far as I know, economics is a quite rational social science (at least since the publication of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations in 1776!).

For the lack of a better & recent example, attacking Iraq may have been justified irrational politcal/WMD arguments whereas the deeper intention clearly is controlling a vital economical ressource.

Isn't our economy fundamentally (and rationally) driven by expansion regularly resulting in wars since the stone age and until we achieve a world government?

 
 
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Skipshot
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16 March 2007 09:55
 

Yes, greed for money and power is a primary motivator in war.  So, what’s your point?

By the way, welcome to the forum.

 
 
 
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bernard
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18 March 2007 03:27
 

In his book, Sam Harris makes the statement that the vast majority of deaths are caused by irrational motivations. My point is: isn’t the underlying motivation a deeply rational economical reason? That’s the way we’re functioning…

And thanks for welcoming me…

 
 
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Skipshot
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18 March 2007 09:21
 

[quote author=“bernard”]In his book, Sam Harris makes the statement that the vast majority of deaths are caused by irrational motivations. My point is: isn’t the underlying motivation a deeply rational economical reason? That’s the way we’re functioning…

The “deeply rational economical reason” begs the question, “When do you have enough?”  Once you have enough but continue to acquire does the economical reason lose rationality?

In cases where someone gets the ball rolling on an idea which continues to pay handsome dividends without much effort by the originator (Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, for example), then one’s acquisitions are a consequence of skill and fortune.  But, when one already has enough but feels the need to continue, then the acquiring becomes irrational.  Power is included in the desire for more, and we all know the expression “power-hungry”, and agree it is irrational.

 
 
 
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SaulOhio
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20 March 2007 02:35
 

I strongly disagree with the idea that going to war for control of natural resources is rational. It is destructive, and a consequence of irrational ideas such as collectivism and mercantilism. (actually, mercanilism is based on collectivism.) Dictatorships waste resources, damage economies and ruin the industrial base needed to extract natural resources, creating an artificial need to expand territory to increase “lebenstraum” and gain access to the natural resources of other countries, access which the dictatorial government itself has cut off.

In a free market, with free international trade, what does it matter on which side of an invisible line the resources are located? (other than transportation costs, which war cannot change.)

War only serves to destroy and waste such resources.

 
 
 
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rogerflat
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22 March 2007 09:19
 

War is irational from the perspective of everyone as a whole. It only servers to destroy life and property. However, within certain systems (like the U.S. economy) it can be useful.  The war in Iraq has cost 400 billion thus far.  That is a huge economic stimulus. Remember that it is being funded with taxpayer money which goes right back out into the war time economy…and generally to U.S. arms manufacturers. So it is profitable in that respect.

Also, this war has allowed the US to secure oilfields which it can then prevent from being destroyed, thus preventing price surges for scarcities of oil.

But if you value life over economics then it is irational.

 
 
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SaulOhio
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22 March 2007 10:04
 

[quote author=“rogerflat”]War is irational from the perspective of everyone as a whole. It only servers to destroy life and property. However, within certain systems (like the U.S. economy) it can be useful.  The war in Iraq has cost 400 billion thus far.  That is a huge economic stimulus. Remember that it is being funded with taxpayer money which goes right back out into the war time economy…and generally to U.S. arms manufacturers. So it is profitable in that respect.

Also, this war has allowed the US to secure oilfields which it can then prevent from being destroyed, thus preventing price surges for scarcities of oil.

But if you value life over economics then it is irational.

One mistake you are making is something called the broken window fallacy. The economic stimulus caused by war would happen just as well without war. The money the government spends on war would instead be spent in other ways, producing the same amount of stimulus to the economy. Only then it would be put to more productive use.

Broken window fallacy: Looking at immediate visible consequnces, and ignoring seconday consequences.

A punk throws a rock through the window of a bakery. A crowd gathers and someone observes that this isn’t all bad. The baker now has to buy a new window, and that is more business for the glass maker. The baker is forced to spend more money, putting that money into circulation, stimulating the economy of the whole town. What they fail to observe is somethign that doesn’t happen. Because the baker had to spend that money to buy a new window, it wasn’t available to buy more flour to bake bread. Or, if the baker is making enough profit that he didn’t need that money for flour, he would have bought himself a new coat, which would have been more business for the tailor. The money would still have been spent, producing the same economic stimulus to the town. People can see the new window being installed, and the money the Baker pays the glass maker, because that is what happens. They cannot see with their own eyes what the baker would have spent the money on is the window hadn’t been broken, because that never comes into being.

This is paraphrased from memory from Henry Hazlitt’s book Economics in One Lesson

 
 
 
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snapshot1
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22 March 2007 10:24
 

[quote author=“SaulOhio”][quote author=“rogerflat”]War is irational from the perspective of everyone as a whole. It only servers to destroy life and property. However, within certain systems (like the U.S. economy) it can be useful.  The war in Iraq has cost 400 billion thus far.  That is a huge economic stimulus. Remember that it is being funded with taxpayer money which goes right back out into the war time economy…and generally to U.S. arms manufacturers. So it is profitable in that respect.

Indeed. War is simply a reputable way to spend a whole lot of money really, really quickly. If the same amount of money could be injected into the economy in other ways, it wouldn’t be contributing to the manufacturing of technology that can only be used for killing and destruction.

What the Bush Administration has done is they found an excuse to be able to dump huge amounts of money into Halliburton using no-bid contracts. This is all coming at the expense of the taxpayer who would probably rather just give Halliburton the money, no questions asked, than go to war with another country.

 
Jim Christensen
 
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Jim Christensen
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23 March 2007 22:35
 

Well, how rational is it for scientists…since Dawkins tells us that most of them are atheists…to keep putting nuclear weapons in the hands of the worlds governments?

Since they are mainly atheists, they must have their reasons.  Money? Power? Prestige? Simple curiosity?

Can they do this and just brush off the morality of it, if any?  After all, it was Oppenheimer who felt that the scientists had “known sin” and “had blood on their hands.

 
 
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Skipshot
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25 March 2007 19:04
 

[quote author=“Jim Christensen”]Well, how rational is it for scientists…since Dawkins tells us that most of them are atheists…to keep putting nuclear weapons in the hands of the worlds governments?

Can you give us an example of a scientist who is also a professed atheist who also put “nuclear weapons in the hands of the worlds [sic] governments?”  Your answer must not include scientists who were working at the behest of a government, but rather through private funding.

You’ve made quite a claim, please back it up before asking it to be answered.