Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

The Expected Utility Theory of Conflict: Measuring Theoretical Progress

  • Roslyn Simowitz (a1) and Barry L. Price (a2)

Abstract

We examine the “progressivity” of Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's theory of conflict as originally developed in The War Trap and as extended later. Bueno de Mesquita offers the progressivity of the expected utility theory relative to other theories and approaches to conflict as his major defense in responding to critics. Bueno de Mesquita essentially relies on Imre Lakatos' definition of theoretical progress in presenting his argument. A review of the literature addressing the concept of theoretical progress indicates that Bueno de Mesquita's application of Lakatosian criteria is incomplete and that Lakatos' criteria are themselves flawed. We review the philosophy of science literature dealing with theoretical progress or rational criteria for theory choice and evaluate the progressivity of the expected utility theory of conflict in light of criteria other than Lakatos'. While we do recommend further elaboration of Bueno de Mesquita's theory, we do not find it more progressive than its rivals.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Agassi, J. 1964. “The Nature of Scientific Problems and Their Roots in Metaphysics.” In Critical Approach to Science and Philosophy, ed. Bunge, Mario. New York: Free Press.
Altfeld, M., and Mesquita, Bruce Bueno de. 1979. “Choosing Sides in Wars.” International Studies Quarterly 23: 87112.
Berkowitz, Bruce. 1983. “Realignment in International Treaty Organizations.” International Studies Quarterly 27: 7796.
Berkson, William. 1974. Fields of Force: The Development of a World View from Faraday to Einstein. New York: Wiley.
Berkson, William. 1976. “Lakatos One and Lakatos Two: An Appreciation.” In Essays in Memory of Imre Lakatos, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 39, ed. Cohen, Robert S., Feyerabend, Paul K., and Wartofsky, Marx W.. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel.
Bueno de Mesquita, Brace. 1980. “An Expected Utility Theory of Conflict.” American Political Science Review 74: 917–31.
Bueno de Mesquita, Brace. 1981. The War Trap. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. 1983. “The Costs of War: An Expected Utility Approach.” American Political Science Review 77: 347–57.
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. 1984a. “A Critique of A Critique of the War Trap.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 28:341–60.
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. 1984b. “Theory and the Advancement of Knowledge about War: A Reply.” Review of International Studies 10: 6575.
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. 1984c. “Forecasting Policy Decisions: An Expected Utility Approach to Post-Khomeini Iran.” PS 17: 226–36.
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. 1985a. “The War Trap Revisited: A Revised Expected Utility Model.” American Political Science Review 79: 156–77.
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. 1985b. “Toward a Scientific Understanding of International Conflict: A Personal View.” International Studies Quarterly 29: 121–36.
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. 1987. “Conceptualizing War: A Reply.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 31: 370–82.
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, and Lalman, David. 1986. “Reason and War.” American Political Science Review 80: 1113–28.
Bueno de Mesquita, Brace, Newman, David, and Rabuska, Alvin. 1985. Forecasting Political Events: The Future of Hong Kong. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Duhem, Pierre. 1954. The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Feyerabend, Paul. 1970. “Consolations for the Specialist.” In Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, ed. Lakatos, Imre and Musgrave, Alan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Feyerabend, Paul. 1978. Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Knowledge. London: Verso.
Jervis, Robert. 1985. “Pluralistic Rigor: A Comment on Bueno de Mesquita.” International Studies Quarterly 29: 145–50.
Khong, Yuen Foong. 1984. “War and International Theory: A Comment on the State of the Art.” Review of International Studies 10: 4164.
Krasner, Stephen D. 1985. “Toward Understanding in International Relations.” International Studies Quarterly 29: 137–44.
Kuhn, Thomas. 1962. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kuhn, Thomas. 1970. “Reflections on My Critics.” In Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, ed. Lakatos, Imre and Musgrave, Alan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lakatos, Imre. 1970. “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.” In Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, ed. Lakatos, Imre and Musgrave, Alan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lakatos, Imre. 1976. Proofs and Refutations: The Logic of Mathematical Discovery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lakatos, Imre. 1978. The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. Vol. 1. London: Cambridge University Press.
Laudan, Lawrence. 1977. Progress and Its Problems. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Luterbacher, Urs. 1984. “Last Words about War?Journal of Conflict Resolution 28: 165–82.
Majeski, Steven, and Sylvan, Donald J.. 1984. “Simple Choices and Complex Calculations: A Critique of The War Trap.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 28: 316–40.
Moon, J. Donald. 1975. “The Logic of Political Inquiry: A Synthesis of Opposed Perspectives.” In Handbook of Political Science: Scope and Theory, vol. 1, ed. Greenstein, Fred I. and Polsby, Nelson W.. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Morrow, James D. 1985. “A Continuous Outcome Expected Utility Theory of War.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 29: 473502.
Morrow, James D. 1986. “A Spatial Model of International Conflict.” American Political Science Review 80: 1131–50.
Musgrave, Alan. 1974. “The Objectivism of Popper's Epistemology.” In The Philosophy of Karl Popper, vol. 1, ed. Schilpp, Paul A.. LaSalle, IL: Open Court.
Musgrave, Alan. 1976. “Method or Madness?” In Essays in Memory of Imre Lakatos, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 39, ed. Cohen, Robert S., Feyerabend, Paul K., and Wartofsky, Marx W.. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel.
Newman, David. 1982. “Security and Alliances.” Presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Cincinnati.
Nicholson, Michael. 1983. The Scientific Analysis of Social Behavior: A Defense of Empiricism in Social Science. New York: St. Martin's.
Nicholson, Michael. 1987. “The Conceptual Bases of The War Trap.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 31:346–69.
Popper, Karl. 1963. Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. New York: Basic Books.
Quine, Willard. 1953. From a Logical Point of View. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Rosenau, James, ed. 1973. In Search of Global Patterns. New York: Free Press.
Von Neumann, John, and Morgenstern, Oskar. 1944. Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Wagner, Harrison R. 1984. “War and Expected Utility Theory.” World Politics 36: 407–23.
Zagare, Frank. 1982. Review of The War Trap by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. American Political Science Review 76:738–39.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed