Citations to and Passages from Historical and Academic Works Relating to Conflict, Bargaining and Interactive Measurement

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General Principles

Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea) 1818:

Knowledge of our own capacities and their unalterable limits is the surest way to the attainment of the greatest possible contentment.... For there is no consolation so effective as the complete certainty of unalterable necessity.... No evil that befalls us pains us so much as does the thought that there were circumstances by which that evil might have been warded off.

Thomas Schelling (The Strategy of Conflict) 1960:

Among diverse theories of conflict - corresponding to the diverse meanings of the word "conflict" - a main dividing line is between those that treat conflict as a pathological state and seek its causes and treatment, and those that take conflict for granted and study the behavior associated with it. Among the latter there is a further division between those that examine the participants in a conflict in all their complexity - with regard to both "rational" and "irrational" behavior, conscious and unconscious, and to motivations as well as to calculations - and those that focus on the more rational, conscious, artful kind of behavior. Crudely speaking, the latter treat conflict as a kind of contest, in which the participants are trying to "win." A study of conscious, intelligent, sophisticated conflict behavior - of successful behavior - is like a search for rules of "correct" behavior in a contest-winning sense.... We can call this field of study the strategy of conflict....

To study the strategy of conflict is to take the view that most conflict situations are essentially bargaining situations. They are situations in which the ability of one participant to gain his ends is dependant to an important degree on the choices or decisions that the other participant will make. The bargaining may be explicit, as when one offers a concession; or it may be by tacit maneuver, as when one occupies or evacuates strategic territory. It may, as in the ordinary haggling of the market-place, take the status quo as its zero point and seek arrangements that yield positive gains to both sides; or it may involve threats of damage, including mutual damage, as in a strike, boycott, or price war, or in extortion....

Here perhaps we perceive a disadvantage peculiar to civilized modern students of international affairs, by contrast with, say, Machiavelli or the ancient Chinese. We tend to identify peace, stability and the quiescence of conflict with notions like trust, good faith, and mutual respect. To the extent that this point of view actually encourages trust and respect it is good. But where trust and good faith do not exist and cannot be made to by our acting as though they did, we may wish to solicit advice from the underworld, or from ancient despotisms, on how to make agreements work when trust and good faith are lacking and there is no legal recourse for breach of contract. The ancients exchanged hostages, drank wine from the same glass to demonstrate the absence of poison, met in public places to inhibit the massacre of one by the other, and even deliberately exchanged spies to facilitate transmittal of authentic information. It seems likely that a well-developed theory of strategy could throw light on the efficacy of some of those old devices, suggest the circumstances to which they apply, and discover modern equivalents that, though offensive to our taste, may be desperately needed in the regulation of conflict.

Elihu Root (Undelivered Address Accepting the Award of the Nobel Peace Prize) 1914:

The humanitarian purpose of Alfred Nobel in establishing the peace prize which bears his name was doubtless not merely to reward those who should promote peace among nations, but to stimulate thought upon the means and methods best adapted, under the changing conditions of future years, to approach and ultimately attain the end he so much desired.

The apparent simplicity of the subject is misleading. Recognition of the horrors of war and the blessings of peace, acceptance of the dogma "War is wrong and to keep the peace a duty," are so universal that upon the surface it seems only necessary to state a few incontrovertible truths and to press them upon the attention of mankind, in order to have war end and peace reign perpetually.

Yet the continual recurrence of war and the universally increasing preparations for war based upon expectation of it among nations all of whom declare themselves in favor of peace, indicate that intellectual acceptance of peace doctrine is not sufficient to control conduct, and that a general feeling in favor of peace, however sincere, does not furnish a strong enough motive to withstand the passions which lead to war when a cause of quarrel has arisen. The methods of peace propaganda which aim at establishing peace doctrine by argument and by creating a feeling favorable to peace in general seem to fall short of reaching the springs of human action and of dealing with the causes of the conduct which they seek to modify. The mere assemblage of peace loving people to interchange convincing reasons for their common faith, mere exhortation and argument to the public in favor of peace in general fall short of the mark.

They are useful, they serve to strengthen the faith of the participants, they tend very gradually to create a new standard of conduct, just as exhortations to be good and demonstrations that honesty is the best policy have a certain utility by way of suggestion. But the mere repetition of the obvious by good people of average intelligence, while not without utility and not by any means to be despised as an agency for peace, nevertheless is subject to the drawback that the unregenerate world grows weary of iteration and reacts in the wrong direction. To deal with the true causes of war one must begin by recognizing as of prime relevancy to the solution of the problem the familiar fact that civilization is a partial, incomplete, and, to a great extent, superficial modification of barbarism.

On the Incentives of Parties Involved in a Conflict or Bargaining Process, Generally

Unknown Author of an Icelandic Saga (Njal's Saga) circa 1280 A.D.

(Describing events among the Vikings in Iceland following the Viking Gunnar's purchase of a slave for his wife, Hallgerd, from Otkel and some other men at Kirkby who were not of their kin, and following Hallgerd's subsequent dispatch of the slave to steal the contents of his former owners' storehouse at Kirkby, and to burn it to the ground, and following the discovery of evidence of Hallgerd's and the slave's involvement by Otkel's friend, Skamkel.)

Kolskegg [a friend of Njal] had a talk with Gunnar, and said "I have bad news. Everyone is saying that Hallgerd has committed theft and was responsible for all the damage that was done at Kirkby."

Gunnar said that he thought it all too likely. "What should we do now?" he asked

Kolskegg said "Obviously you are the one who has to make amends for your wife, and I think the best plan is to go and see [them] and make... a good offer."

"That is a good suggestion," replied Gunnar. "So be it."

Soon afterwards, Gunnar... rode off [to Kirkby, and upon arriving there]...asked for Otkel.

Skamkel was there too, and he said to Otkel "I shall go out with you; we shall need to have all of our wits about us. I want to be close to you when your need is greatest, as it is at this very moment. I would advise you to stand on your dignity."

Then they went outside... and greeted Gunnar, [who said] "The purpose of my visit is to tell you the disastrous loss you suffered here was caused by my wife and that slave I bought from you."

[They responded that they were not surprised to hear this, as they had in their possession hard evidence gained through the expenditure of much time and resources].

Gunnar said, "Now I want to make you a fair offer; I suggest that the best men in the district should assess the compensation."

"That sounds well" said Skamkel, "but it certainly is not a fair offer. You are popular with the farmers round here, but we are not."

Gunnar said "Then I offer to assess your compensation myself, here and now. With it I will pledge my friendship, and I will pay the entire sum at once. I offer to pay you double the amount of your losses."

Skamkel said to Otkel, "Don't accept it. It would be beneath you to allow him self-judgment when you are entitled to it yourself...."

Otkel leaned over towards Skamkel and said "[then] what do I answer now?"

"Say that it is a handsome offer," said Skamkel "But [defer] your decision ...."

Otkel announced "This is a handsome offer Gunnar, but nevertheless, I want you to give me time to consult...."

"Do what you like" said Gunnar. "But some would say that you cannot recognize honour when you are being shown it...."

[Then, at Skamkel's urging, and although Gunnar's offer remained open to them, on the last day for serving a summons they rode out to Gunnar's farm in force, and upon finding him there they at once shouted out a summons on Gunnar for receiving stolen goods, and upon Gunnar's wife for theft.]

Gunnar was furious. He walked inside and told Kolskegg what had happened. Kolskegg said "It's a pity we were not outside with you. Their journey would have turned very sour on them if we had been at hand...."

A little while later... [Gunnar] went and told Njal. Njal said, "Do not let this worry you, for it will turn out greatly to your credit before [it]... is over. [Now] We shall all support you to the full...."

[Then] Gunnar rode out to [the place where the summons was to be answered], accompanied by all the Sigfussons and by Njal and his sons...and it was said that no other group there looked as formidable....

[The others then relented, and they offered to grant Gunnar self-judgment once again, to which Gunnar replied as follows:]

"This is my finding: there is liability for the cost of the storehouse and the food it contained; but for the slave's crime I will pay you nothing, because you concealed his faults. Instead, I am going to hand him back to you, on the principle that the ears fit best where they grew. In addition, I find that you served summons on me with intent to disgrace me, and for that I award myself damages to the exact value of the house and its contents destroyed in the fire. But if you would prefer to not accept a settlement at all, I shall offer no objections; for I have another plan to meet just such a contingency; and I shall not hesitate to carry it out...."

[They replied, as they signified their acceptance of Gunnar's terms,] "We agree that you should make no payment.... We agree to conclude a settlement, even though you alone dictate the conditions.... [B]ut we ask that you become Otkel's friend."

"Never, as long as I live" said Gunnar.... "He can have Skamkel's friendship; that is what he has always relied on.... [And] if you insist on staying on at Kirkby, take care not to interfere with me again."

On the Measurement of the Will Through Unilateral Action, and on the Incentives For Limited Communication

Homer (The Iliad: The Funeral of Patroclos) 800 B.C.:

The road here led through a gully, and in one part the winter flood had broken down part of the road and made a hollow. Menelaos was driving in the middle of the road, hoping that no one would try to pass too close to his wheel, but Antilochos turned his horses out of the track and followed him a little to one side. This frightened Menelaos, and he shouted at him:

"What reckless driving Antilochos! Hold in your horses. This place is narrow, soon you will have more room to pass. You will foul my car and destroy us both!"

But Antilochos only plied the whip and drove faster than ever, as if he did not hear. They raced about as far as the cast of a [discus] swung from the shoulder... and then [Menelaos] fell behind: he let the horses go slow himself, for he was afraid that they might all collide in that narrow space and overturn the cars and fall in a struggling heap.

On the Measurement of the Will Through Unilateral Action Generally, and on Unilateral Action in Relation to the Incentives of the Parties

Thomas C. Schelling (Arms and Influence) 1966:

Cold war politics have been likened, by Bertrand Russell and others, to the game of "chicken." This is described as a game in which two teen-age motorists head for each other on a highway - usually late at night, with their gangs and girlfriends looking on - to see which of the two will first swerve aside. The one who does is then called "chicken."

The better analogy is with the less frivolous contest of chicken that is played out regularly on streets and highways by people who want their share of the road, or more than their share, or who want to be first through an intersection or at least not kept waiting indefinitely.

"Chicken" is not just a game played by delinquent teen-agers with their hot-rods in southern California; it is a universal form of adversary engagement....

These various games of chicken - the genuine ones that involve some real unpredictability - have some characteristics that are worth noting. One is that, unlike those sociable games it takes two to play, with chicken it takes two not to play. If you are publicly invited to play chicken and say you would rather not, you have just played.

On the Will Generally, and on Self-Sacrifice and Doubt

Soren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling) 1843:

If Abraham, when he stood upon Mount Moriah, had doubted, if he had gazed about him irresolutely, if before he drew the knife he had by chance discovered the ram, if God had permitted him to offer it instead of Isaac -- then he would have betaken himself home, everything would have been the same, he has Sarah, he retained Isaac, and yet how changed! For his retreat would have been a flight, his salvation an accident, his reward, dishonor, his future perhaps perdition. Then he would have borne witness neither to his faith nor to God's grace, but would have testified only how dreadful it is to march out to Mount Moriah. Then Abraham would not have been forgotten, nor would Mount Moriah, this mountain would then be mentioned, not like Ararat where the Ark landed, but would be spoken of as a consternation, because it was here that Abraham doubted.

On the Will and the Power of Commitment Through Unilateral, Non-verbal Action

Bernal Diaz Del Castillo (The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico) 1521:

On Holy Thursday, in the year 1519, we arrived with all the fleet at the Port of San Juan de Ulna, and as the Pilot Alaminos knew the place well from having come here with Juan de Grijalva he at once ordered the vessels to drop anchor where they would be safe from the northerly gales. The flagship hoisted her royal standards and pennants, and within half an hour of anchoring, two large canoes came out to us, full of Mexican Indians. Seeing the big ship with the standards flying they knew that it was there they must go to speak with the captain; so they went direct to the flagship and going on board asked who was the Tatuan, which in their language means the chief. Dofia Marina, who understood the language well, pointed him out. Then the Indians paid many marks of respect to Cortes, according to their usage, and bade him welcome, and said their lord, a servant of the great Montezuma, had sent them to ask what kind of men we were.... Our Cortes thanked them through the two interpreters... [and] told them that we came to see them and to trade with them and that our arrival in their country should cause them no uneasiness but be looked on by them as fortunate. The messengers returned on shore well content, and the next day, which was Good Friday, we disembarked with the horses and guns....

As far as I can make out this matter of destroying the ships which we suggested to Cortes during our conversation, had already been decided on by him, but he wished it to appear as though it came from us, so that if any one should ask him to pay for the ships, he could say that he had acted on our advice and we would all be concerned in their payment. Then he sent Juan de Escalante to Villa Rica with orders to bring on shore all the anchors, cables, sails, and everything else on board which might prove useful, and then to destroy the ships....

When the ships had been destroyed, with our full knowledge, one morning after we had heard mass, when all the captains and soldiers were assembled and were talking to Cortes about military matters, he begged us to listen to him, and argued with us as follows: "We all understood what was the work that lay before us, and that with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ we must conquer in all battles and encounters that fell to our lot, and must be as ready for them as was befitting, for if we were anywhere defeated, which pray God would not happen, we could not raise our heads again, as we were so few in numbers, and we could look for no help or assistance, but that which came from God, for we no longer possessed ships in which to return to Cuba, but must rely on our good swords and stout hearts" - and he went on to draw many comparisons and relate the heroic deeds of the Romans. One and all we answered him that we would obey his orders, that the die was cast for good fortune, as Caesar said when he crossed the Rubicon, and that we were all of us ready to serve God and the King.

Thomas C. Schelling (Arms and Influence) 1966:

[W]ords are cheap, not inherently credible when they emanate from an adversary, and sometimes too intimate a mode of expression. [A]ction is more impersonal, cannot be "rejected" the way a verbal message can; and does not involve the intimacy of verbal contact. Actions also prove something; significant actions usually incur some cost or risk, and carry some evidence of their own credibility. And actions are less ambiguous as to their origin; verbal messages come from different parts of government, with different nuances, supplemented by "leaks" from various sources and can be contradicted by later verbal messages, while actions tend to be irrevocable, and the fact that action occurred proves that authority is behind it. "I wish it were possible to convince others with words," said President Johnson (April 7, 1965) during the air attacks on North Vietnam, "of what we now find it necessary to say with guns and planes."

John F. Kennedy (as quoted in A Thousand Days) 1962:

"That son of a bitch won't pay any attention to words.... He has to see you move."

On the Necessity and Inherent Difficulty of Attempting To Measure an Adversary's Will

Karl Von Clausewitz (On War) 1832:

We shall not enter into any of the abstruse definitions of War used by publicists. We shall keep to the element of the thing itself, to a duel.... Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will....

[T]he compulsory submission of the enemy to our will is the ultimate object. In order to attain this object fully, the enemy must be disarmed, and disarmament becomes therefore the immediate object....

If we desire to defeat the enemy, we must proportion our efforts to his powers of resistance. This is expressed by the product of two factors which cannot be separated, namely, the sum of available means and the strength of the Will. The sum of the available means may be estimated in a measure, as it depends (although not entirely) upon numbers; but the strength of volition is more difficult to determine, and can only be estimated to a certain extent....

Thomas Schelling (The Strategy of Conflict) 1960:

There are situations that ultimately involve an element of pure bargaining - bargaining in which each party is guided mainly by his expectations of what the other will accept. But with each guided by expectations and knowing the other is too, expectations become compounded. A bargain is struck when somebody makes a final, sufficient concession. Why does he concede? Because he thinks the other will not. "I must concede because he won't. He won't because he thinks I will. He thinks I will because he thinks I think he thinks so...".... There is no resting place.

There is, however, an outcome; and if we cannot find it in the logic of the situation we may find it in the tactics employed. The purpose of this chapter is to call attention to an important class of tactics, of a kind that is peculiarly appropriate to the logic of indeterminate situations. The essence of these tactics is some voluntary, but irreversible sacrifice of freedom of choice. They rest on the paradox that the power to constrain an adversary may depend on the power to bind oneself; that, in bargaining, weakness is often strength, freedom may be freedom to capitulate, and to burn bridges behind one may suffice to undo an opponent....

If the essence of a game of strategy is the dependence of each person's proper choice of action on what he expects the other to do, it may be useful to define a "strategic move" as follows: A strategic move is one that influences the other person's choice, in a manner favorable to one's self, by affecting the other person's expectations on how one's self will behave. One constrains the partner's choice by constraining one's own behavior.

On the Necessity and Inherent Difficulty of Attempting to Measure One's Own Will

Sun Tzu (The Art of War) Circa 500 BC:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself, but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea) 1818:

As events always take place according to fate, i.e., according to the infinite concatenation of causes, so our actions always take place according to our intelligible character. But just as we do not know the former beforehand, so no a priori insight is given us into the latter, but we only come to know ourselves as we come to know other persons a posteriori through experience. If ... we [can] only form a good [understanding of our own capacities through] a long conflict..., this conflict would have to come first and be waited for [as] it is in the resolve that follows that we shall see what manner of men we are, and mirror ourselves in our actions. This is the explanation of the satisfaction or the anguish of soul with which we look back on the course of our past life. Both are experienced, not because these past deeds have still an existence; they are past, they have been, and now are no more; but their great importance for us lies in their significance, lies in the fact that these deeds are the expression of the character, the mirror of the will, in which we look and recognize our inmost self, the kernel of our will. Because we experience this not before, but only after, it behooves us to strive and fight in time, in order that the picture we produce by our deeds may be such that the contemplation of it may calm us as much as possible, instead of harassing us....

[A]lthough a man is always the same, yet he does not always understand himself, but often mistakes himself, till he has in some degree acquired real self knowledge.... This makes it the more difficult for him to see how much his individuality enables him to will and to accomplish. He finds in himself the germs of all the various human pursuits and powers, but the difference of degree in which they exist in his individuality is not clear to him in the absence of experience; and if he now applies himself to the pursuits which alone correspond to this character, he yet feels, especially at particular moments and in particular moods, the inclination to directly opposite pursuits which cannot be combined with them, but must be entirely suppressed if he desires to follow the former undisturbed. For as our physical path upon earth is always merely a line, not an extended surface, so in life, if we desire to grasp and possess one thing, we must renounce and leave innumerable others on the right hand and on the left. If we cannot make up our minds to this, but like children at the fair, snatch at everything that attracts us in passing, we are making the perverse endeavor to change the line of our path into an extended surface... and attain nothing. Or, to use another comparison, as according to Hobbes' philosophy of law, every one has an original right to everything, but an exclusive right to nothing, yet can obtain an exclusive right to particular things by renouncing his right to all the rest, while others, on their part, do likewise with regard to what he has chosen....

We only become conscious of the inflexibility in another's character through experience, and still then we childishly believe that it is possible, by means of rational ideas, by prayers and entreaties, by example and noble-mindedness, ever to persuade any one to leave his own way, to change his course of conduct, to depart from his mode of thinking, or even to extend his capacities; so is it also with ourselves. We must first learn from experience what we desire and what we can do. Till then we know it not, we are without character, and must often be driven back to our own way by hard blows from without. But if we have finally learnt it, then we have what in the world is called character, [which is] is nothing but the most perfect knowledge possible of our own individuality. It is the abstract, and consequently distinct, knowledge of [our own] unalterable qualities... and of the measure and direction of our mental and physical powers, and thus of the whole strength and weakness of our own individuality. This places us in a position to carry out deliberately and methodically the role which belongs to [us].... We shall now no longer, as novices, wait, attempt, and grope about in order to see what we really desire and are able to do, but we know this once [and] for all.... We [shall] know our will in general, and... the measure of our strengths and our weakness, and thereby [be] spared much suffering....

Only he who has attained to this [shall] never fail himself at the critical moment, because he will always have known what he could expect from himself.... Knowledge of our own mind and its capacities of every kind, and their unalterable limits, is in this respect the surest way to the attainment of the greatest possible contentment with ourselves. For it holds good of inward as of outward circumstances that there is for us no consolation so effective as the complete certainty of unalterable necessity. No evil that befalls us pains us so much as [does] the thought [that there were] circumstances by which that evil might have been warded off.... If we have once [and] for all distinctly recognized not only our good qualities and our strengths, but also our defects and weakness, established our aim accordingly, and rest satisfied concerning what cannot be attained, we thus escape in the surest way... the bitterest of all sorrows: discontentment with ourselves, which is the inevitable result of ignorance of our own [will], and [of the] false conceit and the audacity that proceeds from it.

On the Inefficiencies Associated with the Use of Military Force as a Means of Measuring the Respective Will of the Parties

Rudyard Kipling (Epitaphs of the War) 1918:

If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.

Charlotte Mew (The Cenotaph) 1919:

Not yet will those measureless fields be green again
Where only yesterday the wild sweet blood of wonderful youth was shed;
There is a grave whose earth must hold too long, too deep a stain;
Though for ever over it we may speak as proudly as we may tread.
But here, where the watchers by lonely hearths from the thrust of an inward sword
have more slowly bled,
We shall build the Cenotaph: Victory, winged, with peace, winged too, at the column's head.
And over the stairway, at the foot- oh! here, leave desolate, passionate hands to spread
Violets, roses, and laurel, with the small, sweet twinkling country things
Speaking so wistfully of other Springs....

Only, when all is done and said,
God is not mocked and neither are the dead.
For this will stand in our Market-place -
Who'll sell, who'll buy
(Will you or I
Lie to each other with the better grace)?
While looking into every busy whore's and huckster's face
As they drive their bargains, is the Face
Of God: and some young, piteous, murdered face.

Siegfried Sassoon (At the Cenotaph) 1919:

I saw the Prince of Darkness, with his Staff,
Standing bare-headed by the Cenotaph:
Unostentatious and respectful, there
He stood, and offered up the following prayer.

'Make them forget, O Lord, what this Memorial
Means; their discredited ideas revive;
Breed new belief that War is purgatorial
Proof of the pride and power of being alive;
Men's biologic urge to readjust
The Map of Europe, Lord of Hosts, increase;
Lift up their hearts in large destructive lust;
And crown their heads with blind vindictive Peace.'

The Prince of Darkness to the Cenotaph
Bowed. As he walked away I heard him laugh

On the Inefficiencies Associated with the Use of Legal Conflict as a Means of Measuring the Respective Will of the Parties

Charles Dickens (Bleak House) 1853:

On such an afternoon, if ever, the Lord High Chancellor ought to be sitting here -- as here he is -- with a foggy glory round his head, softly fenced in with crimson cloth and curtains, addressed by a large advocate with great whiskers, a little voice, and an interminable brief, and outwardly directing his contemplation to the lantern in the roof, where he can see nothing but fog. On such an afternoon some score of members of the High Court of Chancery bar ought to be -- as here they are -- mistily engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another up on slippery precedents, groping knee-deep in technicalities, running their goat-hair and horsehair warded heads against walls of words and making a pretence of equity with serious faces, as players might. On such an afternoon the various solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it from their fathers, who made a fortune by it, ought to be -- as are they not? -- ranged in a line, in a long matted well (but you might look in vain for truth at the bottom of it) between the registrar's red table and the silk gowns, with bills, cross-bills, answers, rejoinders, injunctions, affidavits, issues, references to masters, masters' reports, mountains of costly nonsense, piled before them. Well may the court be dim, with wasting candles here and there; well may the fog hang heavy in it, as if it would never get out; well may the stained-glass windows lose their colour and admit no light of day into the place; well may the uninitiated from the streets, who peep in through the glass panes in the door, be deterred from entrance by its owlish aspect and by the drawl, languidly echoing to the roof from the padded dais where the Lord High Chancellor looks into the lantern that has no light in it....

This is the Court of Chancery, which has its decaying houses and its blighted lands in every shire, which has its worn-out lunatic in every madhouse and its dead in every churchyard, which has its ruined suitor with his slipshod heels and threadbare dress borrowing and begging through the round of every man's acquaintance, which gives to monied might the means abundantly of wearying out the right, which so exhausts finances, patience, courage, hope, so overthrows the brain and breaks the heart, that there is not an honourable man among its practitioners who would not give -- who does not often give -- the warning, "Suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here!"

Elihu Root (as quoted by Phillip C. Jessup) circa 1882:

"About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists in telling would-be clients that they are damned fools and should stop."

Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye) 1953:

"What [did] you expect to gain by it?"

I didn't answer. I didn't really have an answer. He stood up and reached for his hat and snapped his cigarette case shut and put it in his pocket.

"You had to play the big scene," he said coldly. "Stand on your rights. Talk about the law. How ingenuous can a man get, Marlowe? A man like you who is supposed to know his way around. The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be.

"I guess you're not in any mood to be helped. So I'll take myself off. You can reach me if you change your mind."....

He opened the door and went out. Then a deputy came in and took me back to Cell No. 3 in the felony block.

"Guess you won't be with us long, if you've got Endicott," he said pleasantly as he locked me in. I said I hoped he was right.

James Baldwin (Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son) 1961:

The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.

On Conflict as a Mechanism For Measuring the Respective Will of The Parties, and as a Manifestation of Bargaining

Thomas C. Schelling (Arms and Influence) 1966:

To think of war as a bargaining process is uncongenial to some of us. Bargaining with violence smacks of extortion, vicious politics, callous diplomacy, and everything indecent, illegal, or uncivilized. It is bad enough to kill and to maim, but to do it for gain, and not for some transcendent purpose seems even worse. Bargaining also smacks of appeasement, of politics and diplomacy, of accommodation or collaboration with the enemy, of selling out and compromising, of everything weak and irresolute. But to fight a purely destructive war is neither clean nor heroic; it is just purposeless. No one who hates war can eliminate its ugliness by shutting his eyes to the need for responsible direction; coercion is the business of war. And someone who [denies this] usually wants to glorify an action by ignoring or disguising its purpose.

On the Art and Science of Bargaining

C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia) 1954:

The stranger demanded hospitality for the night, which of course the fisherman dared not refuse. All the best they had was set before the Tarkaan for supper (and he didn't think much of it) and Shasta, as always happened when the fisherman had company, was given a hunk of bread and turned out of the cottage. On these occasions he usually slept with the donkey in its little thatched stable. But it was much too early to go to sleep yet, and Shasta, who had never learned that it is wrong to listen behind doors, sat down with his ear to a crack in the wooden wall of the cottage to hear what the grown-ups were talking about. And this is what he heard.

"And now, O my host," said the Tarkaan, "I have a mind to buy that boy of yours."

"O my master." replied the fisherman..."what price could induce your servant, poor though he is, to sell into slavery his only child and his own flesh? Has not one of the poets said, 'Natural affection is stronger than soup and offspring more precious than carbuncles?'"

"It is even so," replied the guest dryly. "but another poet has likewise said, 'He who attempts to deceive the judicious is already baring his own back for the scourge.' Do not load your aged mouth with falsehoods.... It is enough to know that you... have had ten times the worth of his daily bread out of him in labor, as anyone can see. And now tell me at once what price you put on him, for I am wearied with your loquacity."

"You yourself have wisely said," answered Arsheesh, "that the boy's labor has been to me of inestimable value. This must be taken into account in fixing the price. For if I sell the boy I must undoubtedly either buy or hire another to do his work."

"I'll give you fifteen crescents for him," said the Tarkaan.

"Fifteen!" cried Arsheesh in a voice that was something between a whine and a scream. "Fifteen! For the prop of my old age and the delight of my eyes! Do not mock my gray beard, Tarkaan though you may be. My price is seventy."

At this point Shasta got up and tiptoed away. He had heard all he wanted, for he had often listened when men were bargaining in the village and knew how it was done. He was quite certain that Arsheesh would sell him in the end for something much more than fifteen crescents and much less than seventy, but that he and the Tarkaan would take hours in getting to an agreement.

Rubin and Brown (The Social Psychology of Bargaining and Negotiation) 1975:

That social psychologists consider bargaining to be a domain worthy of serious study is perhaps attested to no better than by the fact that more than one thousand experimental and non-experimental articles and books devoted to bargaining have appeared since 1960. Yet, despite the overwhelming attention given to the study of bargaining it is apparent that [our] understanding of this complex and fascinating process is far from complete.

While various theorists, over the years, have articulated many of the ideas they believe should be incorporated in a theory of bargaining, it is clear that no such theory yet exists [and that any such theory] will almost certainly have to include a clear conceptualization of the process of information seeking and disclosure. This process, after all, is what we believe bargaining is largely about. It is through the selective, strategic exchange of information that bargainers attempt to discover the other's true preferences, expectations and intentions, while at the same time revealing as little as possible about their own. And it is the quality and content of this information exchange, as well as the influence attempts to which it leads, that is ultimately responsible for the effectiveness with which bargaining proceeds.

Only by reaching beyond the laboratory to the outer world, can we hope to converge upon a true understanding of the bargaining process. A true theory of bargaining must be able to incorporate with equal facility and validity the knowledge we have gained both in the laboratory and in the world of real and eventful bargaining incidents. Only if this process continues and grows, and only if theorists build upon this process, is a theory likely to develop that truly comprehends bargaining for what it is: a gateway to the analysis of social interaction.

On the Art and Science of Measurement

Niels Bohr (Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge) 1958:

The importance of physical science for the development of general philosophical thinking rests not only on its contributions to our steadily increasing knowledge of that nature of which we ourselves are part, but also on the opportunities which time and again it has offered for examination and refinement of our conceptual tools. In our century, the study of the atomic constitution of matter has revealed an unsuspected limitation of the scope of classical physical ideas.... The revision of the foundation for the unambiguous application of our elementary concepts, necessary for comprehension of atomic phenomena, therefore has a bearing far beyond the domain of physical science....

The following articles present the essential aspects of the situation in quantum mechanics and, at the same time, stress the points of similarity it exhibits to our position in other fields of knowledge beyond the scope of the mechanical conception of nature. We are not dealing here with more or less vague analogies, but with an investigation of the conditions for the proper use of our conceptual means of expression [and] the conditions for objective descriptions in wider fields....

The gist of the argument is that for objective description and harmonious comprehension it is necessary in almost every field of knowledge to pay attention to the circumstances under which evidence is obtained....

[N]o result of an experiment concerning a phenomenon which, in principle, lies outside the range of classical physics can be interpreted as giving information about independent properties of the objects, but is inherently connected with a definite situation in the description of which the measuring instruments interacting with the objects also enter essentially.

Werner Heisenberg (Physics and Philosophy) 1958:

Our actual situation in research work in atomic physics is usually this: we wish to understand a certain phenomenon, we wish to recognize how this phenomenon follows from the general laws of nature. Therefore, that part of matter or radiation which takes part in the phenomenon is the natural 'object' in the theoretical treatment and should be separated in this respect from the tools used to study the phenomenon. This again emphasizes a subjective element in the description of atomic events, since the measuring device has been constructed by the observer, and we have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning.... In this way quantum theory reminds us, as Bohr has put it, of the old wisdom that when searching for harmony in life one must never forget that in the drama of existence we ourselves are both players and spectators.

On the Difficulties that are Inherent in Interactive Measurement

Niels Bohr (Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge) 1958:

Any attempt to [obtain the information] will be frustrated by the unavoidable interaction between the... objects concerned and the measuring instruments indispensable for that purpose.... Indeed, any attempt to [measure] would involve an uncontrollable exchange of energy between the [object of the measurement] and the measuring instruments which would completely disturb the very energy balance that we set out to investigate.... [T]he necessity of considering the interaction between the measuring instruments and the object under investigation in atomic mechanics exhibits a close analogy to the peculiar difficulties in psychological analysis arising from the fact that the mental content is invariably altered when the attention is concentrated on any special feature of it.

Thomas Schelling (The Strategy of Conflict) 1960:

If one reaches the point where concession is advisable, he has to recognize two effects: it puts him closer to his opponent's position, and it affects his opponent's estimate of his firmness. Concession not only may be construed as capitulation, it may mark a prior commitment as a fraud, and make the adversary skeptical of any new pretense at commitment....

If one can demonstrate to one's opponent that the latter is not committed, or that he has miscalculated his commitment, one may in fact undo or revise the opponent's commitment.... [W]hen the opponent has resolved to make a moderate concession one may help him by proving that he can make a moderate concession.... One must seek, in other words... to deny oneself too great a reward from the opponent's concession, otherwise the concession will not be made.

On the Inadmissibility of Failing to Utilize a Practical Means for Measuring the Respective Will of the Parties

Sun Tzu (The Art of War) Circa 500 BC:

Raising a host of a hundred thousand men and marching them great distances entails heavy loss on the people and a drain on the resources of the state. The daily expenditure will amount to a thousand ounces of silver. There will be commotion at home and abroad, and men will drop down exhausted on the highways. As many as seven hundred thousand families will be impeded in their labor.

Hostile armies may face each other for years, striving for victory which is decided in a single day. This being so, to remain in ignorance of the enemy's condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver in honours and emoluments, is the height of inhumanity.

One who acts thus is no leader of men, no present help to his sovereign, no master of victory.

[W]hat enables the wise sovereign and the good general to ... achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men is foreknowledge.

On the Inadmissibility of Failing to Offer or, if it is Proposed, to Accept a Reasonable Outcome.

Elihu Root (Undelivered Address Accepting the Award of the Nobel Peace Prize) 1914:

Gradually, everything that happens in the world is coming to be of interest everywhere in the world, and, gradually, thoughtful men and women everywhere are sitting in judgment upon the conduct of all. True, we are but at the beginning, but it is the beginning of a great new era in which the public opinion of mankind renders judgment, not upon peace and war, for a vast majority of mankind is in favor of war when that is necessary for the preservation of liberty and justice, but upon the just and unjust conduct of nations, as the public opinion of each community passes upon the just and unjust conduct of its individual members. The chief force which makes for peace and order in the community of individuals is not the police officer, with his club, but it is the praise and blame, the honor and shame, which follow observance or violation of the community's standards of right conduct. In the new era that is dawning of the world's public opinion we need not wait for the international policeman, with his artillery, for, when any people feels that [one who is responsible to them] has done a shameful thing and has brought them into disgrace, theirs will be the vengeance and they will inflict the punishment.

On the Search for Theoretical and Practical Solutions to the Inefficiencies and Paradoxes Associated with Bargaining

Thomas Schelling (Preface to the 1980 Edition of the Strategy of Conflict) 1980:

The theoretical contents, not the foreign policy, may be what most people use this book for now. In putting these essays together to make the book, I hoped to help establish an interdisciplinary field that had then been variously described as "theory of bargaining," "theory of conflict," or "theory of strategy." I wanted to show that some elementary theory, cutting across economics, sociology and political science, even law and philosophy and perhaps anthropology, could be useful not only to formal theorists but also to people concerned with practical problems.... The field that I hoped would become established has continued to develop, but not explosively, and without acquiring a name of its own.

On Scientific Advancement Within Fields Grounded In Epistemology

Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics) 1783:

If it be science, how is it that it cannot, like other sciences, obtain universal and lasting recognition? .... It seems almost ridiculous, while every other science is continually advancing, that in this... for whose oracle every one inquires, we should constantly move round the same spot, without gaining a single step. And so its votaries having melted away, we do not find men confident of their ability to shine in other sciences venturing their reputation here, where everybody, no matter how ignorant in other matters, presumes to deliver a final verdict, because in this domain there is as yet no standard weight and measure to distinguish sound knowledge from shallow talk.

After all, it is nothing extraordinary in the elaboration of a science that, when men begin to wonder how far it has advanced, the question should at last occur whether and how such a science is possible at all. Human reason so delights in building that it has several times built up a tower and then razed it to see how the foundation was laid. It is never too late to become reasonable and wise; but if the knowledge comes late, there is always more difficulty in starting a reform.

The question whether a science be possible presupposes a doubt as to its actuality. But such a doubt offends the men whose whole fortune consists of this supposed jewel; hence he who raises the doubt must expect opposition from all sides. Some, in the proud consciousness of their possessions, which are ancient in origin and therefore considered legitimate, will ... look down on him with contempt; others, who never see anything except it be identical with what they have elsewhere seen before, will not understand him, and everything will remain for a time as if nothing had happened to excite the concern or the hope for an impending change.

Nevertheless, I venture to predict that the independent reader of these Prolegomena will not only doubt his previous science, but ultimately be fully persuaded that it cannot exist unless the demands here stated on which its possibility depends, be satisfied.... [And] as it can never cease to be in demand - since the interests of common sense are intimately interwoven with it - he must confess that a radical reform, or rather a new birth of the science, after a new plan, is unavoidable, however men may struggle against it for a while.

On the Practical Utility of Recognizing the Basic Properties of Forces Underlying Commonly Encountered Phenomena

Sir Isaac Newton (Principia) 1726:

Hitherto we have explained the phenomena of the heavens and of our sea by the power of gravity, but have not assigned the cause of this power. This is certain, that it must proceed from a cause that penetrates to the very centers of the sun and planets, without suffering the least diminution of its force....

But hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypothesis.... And to us it is enough that gravity does really exist, and act according to the laws which we have explained, and abundantly serves to account for all the motions of the celestial bodies, and of our sea.



We are indebted to:

Baldwin, James
Nobody Knows My Name:
More Notes of a Native Son

Dial Press, New York

Bohr, Niels
Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge

Wiley & Sons, Inc.,

Boullee, Etienne Louis (Illustrations from)
Cenotaph for Sir Isaac Newton and other studies

Bibliotheque Nationale de

del Castillo, Bernal Diaz
The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico

Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
New York

Chandler, Raymond
The Long Goodbye

Houghton Mifflin, Boston

Clausewitz, Karl von
On War

N. Trubner, London

Dickens, Charles
Bleak House

W.W. Norton & Company,
New York

Heisenberg, Werner
Physics and Philosophy

HarperCollins Publishers,
New York

The Iliad

Thomas Nelson & Sons,
Ltd., London

Kant, Immanuel
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics

Pearson Prentice Hall,
New Jersey

Kierkegaard, Soren
Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death

Pearson Prentice Hall,
New Jersey

Lewis, C.S.
The Chronicles of Narnia

The C.S. Lewis Company, Dorset

Mew, Charlotte
The Cenotaph

Carcanet Press, London

Rubin, J and Brown, B
The Social Psychology of Bargaining and Negotiation

Elsevier (Academic Press), London

Sassoon, Siegfried
At the Cenotaph

The Estate of George Sassoon

Schelling, Thomas C.
The Strategy of Conflict

Harvard University Press, Cambridge

Schelling, Thomas C.
Arms and Influence

Yale University Press, New Haven

Schopenhauer, Arthur
The World as Will and Idea

Charles Scribner's Sons, New York

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

Dover Publications, Inc., New York

Unknown Author
Njal's Saga

Penguin Classics, London