giovedì 24 marzo 2016

The Common-Sense Case for Pacifism Bryan Caplan

  •          In the modern world, there are no wars of "self-defense."  War today inevitably means deliberately or at least recklessly killing many innocent civilians.  This creates a strong moral presumption against war. Pacifismo di fatto.
  •         To overcome this presumption, you'd have to show that long-run benefits of a war are so wonderful than they clearly overshadow its grisly short-run costs.  And you'd have to show that there isn't any cheaper, more humane way to obtain these benefits.
  •          In practice, predicting the consequences of war is extremely difficult.  Expert predictions are barely better than chance.  "It's complicated" is not a good enough reason to deliberately or recklessly kill many innocent people. In practice, however, it's very difficult to predict a war's long-run consequences.  One of the great lessons of Tetlock's Expert Political Judgment is that foreign policy experts are much more certain of their predictions than they have any right to be.
  •        There are much cheaper, more humane ways to attain the alleged humanitarian benefits of war.  First and foremost: free immigration, so desperate people always have some place to start a new life.
  •     I oppose "one-sentence moral theories":: It is absurd to latch on to an abstract grand moral theory, and then defend it against every counter-example. In the real-world, however, pacifism is a sound guide to action.
  •      I suspect that economists' main objection to pacifism is it actually increases the quantity of war by reducing the cost of aggression.  As I've argued before, though, this is at best a half-truth... The upshot for foreign policy is that people who warn about "sowing the seeds of hate" are not the simpletons they often seem to be. Military reprisals against, for example, nations that harbor terrorists reduce the quantity of terrorism holding anti-U.S. hatred fixed. But if people in target countries and those who sympathize with them feel the reprisals are unjustified, we are making them angrier and thereby increasing the demand for terrorism. Net effect:Ambiguous.
  •     Once a country has a credible reputation for pacifism, all the standard pro-war propaganda and rationalizations for escalating savagery start sounding truly absurd.  Maybe even absurd enough to overcome anti-foreign bias. 
  •      "If you want peace, prepare for war."  This claim is obviously overstated.  Is North Korea really pursuing the smart path to peace by keeping almost 5% of its population on active military duty?  How about Hitler's rearmament?  Was the Soviet Union preparing for peace by spending 15-20% of its GDP on the Red Army?  No on all three counts.  The truth is that preparation for war often causes war by frightening and provoking other countries.  That's why the collapse of the Red Army made the inhabitants of the former Soviet Union safer from nuclear attack than they'd been since 1945.   
  •      "Pacifism" didn't work with Hitler."  True enough.  But then again, nothing worked with Hitler.  The man was a monster.  Poland tried resistance, and was virtually destroyed.  Stalin tried alliance, and was stabbed in the back.  The Allies tried unconditional surrender, and left most Europe in ruins, and half under Stalinism.  Sure, with 20/20 hindsight, Britain and France could have invaded Germany in 1933 - or interrupted his parents a few minutes before his conception in 1888.  But two can play at the hindsight game:  Pacifism could easily have prevented World War I, leaving no room for the likes of Hitler to rise to power.
  1. The reason for the "not quite" is the doctrine of Double Effect. I see a difference between and evil effect which is intentionally brought about and a evil effect that is brought about as a foreseen but unavoidable side effect of pursuing a legitimate goal. Is there a difference?  Sure.  But we greatly exaggerate the moral difference when foreigners are the ones who suffer the "unavoidable side effects."  If the police firebombed a domestic apartment complex to pursue the legitimate goal of killing Charles Manson, few people would consider the doctrine of Double Effect a strong defense.  Would you?