lunedì 19 settembre 2016

Oracles di Peter Leeson

Notebook per
Peter Leeson
Citation (APA): Leeson, P. (2014). Oracles [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

Parte introduttiva
Nota - Posizione 3
un modo x coordinarsi
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 3
Oracles Rationality and Society 2014, Vol. 26( 2) 141– 169 © The Author( s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/ 1043463113512997 Peter T Leeson
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 5
oracles: media for divining answers to questions about the unknown.
Nota - Posizione 6
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 6
My theory explains oracles as institutional solutions to “lowgrade” interpersonal conflicts— petty grievances and frustrations resulting from perceptions or feelings of personal offense— that government is unable to resolve.
Nota - Posizione 7
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 10
I consider a society of persons who rely exclusively on oracles to decide how to behave in situations of low-grade conflict: the Azande of Africa.
Nota - Posizione 11
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anche un pregiudizio crea conoscenza profonda... anche una strategia random il mondo dei diritti inapplicabili
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 16
ask it a yes-or-no question,
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 19
Ndogo tribes of Sudan
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 23
seems unambiguously stupid. This article argues that it is not.
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 26
beyond the state’s effective reach.
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 27
individuals typically don’t, and can’t, have enforceable rights
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 30
randomizing strategies
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 31
coordinating individuals’ choices
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 32
rely exclusively on oracles
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 33
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 34
E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 35
oracle called benge
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 39
mixed strategies
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 39
benge oracles are deeply trusted,
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 40
Segnalibro - Posizione 40
Nota - Posizione 41
delphi come voce neutrale... importanza dell autorità oracolo e stress della scelta: random strategy come soluzione ottima schelling e la teoria dei punti focali superstizione come forma razionale di autogoverno
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 41
Oracles, superstition, and self-governance
Nota - Posizione 41
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 42
Iannaccone et al. (2011) consider how political rulers in ancient Greek city states used Delphi as a “neutral nexus”— a location and venue of political independence that helped rulers improve cooperation across their political economies.
Nota - Posizione 43
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 44
Delphic Oracle as a means of assisting political rulers to commit to arbitrary actions that preserved status quo relationships between them.
Nota - Posizione 45
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 54
my analysis can be seen as building on an observation that Myerson (2009) makes in his appreciation of Thomas Schelling’s (1960) work. Though his paper isn’t about oracles, here Myerson notes the role that oracles could play in providing focal points for social coordination.
Nota - Posizione 56
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 65
Before moving to declare the persistence of objectively false beliefs proof of irrationality, the economics of superstition explores how superstitions might benefit the members of societies that adhere to them.
Nota - Posizione 66
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 100
A simple theory of oracles Unresolved conflict
Nota - Posizione 100
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 126
Resolving conflict through oracles
Nota - Posizione 127
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 128
Before choosing their strategies, players observe a public signal. This signal randomly assigns, or “recommends,” a strategy to each player. If no player wants to deviate from his signal-assigned strategy, supposing the others won’t deviate from theirs, the strategies chosen constitute a correlated equilibrium. We call this equilibrium “correlated” because the strategies that compose it aren’t chosen independently:
Nota - Posizione 131
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 132
To see how oracles can create correlated equilibrium, suppose that before i and j decide how to cope with their conflict they consult a Magic 8 Ball. To use this oracle i and j ask it the following question: “Tell us, oh Magic 8 Ball, great one and infallible teller of eternal truths, is i’s (or j’s) animus toward j (or i) justified?” The die inside the 8 Ball has three sides. One of them reads “Yes. It is certainly true.” Another side reads: “No. It is certainly untrue.” The third side reads: “Ask again later.” The neighbors put their hands on the oracle and shake it together. They then turn it upside down to see what the oracle has divined. The neighbors believe the 8 Ball is infallible. They repose complete faith in its ability to get to the bottom of their conflict— i.e., to accurately identify which neighbor is in the wrong— and agree to condition their behavior toward the other on whatever it answers. If the 8 Ball answers “yes,” the neighbors agree that i’s animus is justified.
Nota - Posizione 139
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 145
both neighbors following their oracle-assigned strategies is a correlated equilibrium.
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 162
Oracles and the Azande
Nota - Posizione 162
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 162
The Azande is a tribe of one to four million persons who inhabit parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, southern Sudan, and southeastern Central African Republic. The persons in this society put the theory of oracles developed above to good use.
Nota - Posizione 164
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 164
Between 1926 and 1930, anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard lived among and closely studied the Zande people of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. The British colonized these people in 1905. My discussion of Zande society, beliefs, and oracular usage is based on Evans-Pritchard’s (1937) detailed and lengthy account,
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 171
Low-grade conflicts— the petty, passive, everyday sort that exist between neighbors arising out of feelings of jealously, envy, rivalry, and meanness— fell outside the formally governed arena.
Nota - Posizione 172
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 184
In the daily tasks of life there is ample scope for friction. . . . Among his neighbours a man is sure to have both secret and open enemies. There may have been quarrels about cultivations and hunting areas. There may have been suspicions about designs on a wife. There may have been rivalry at dances. One may have uttered unguarded words which have been repeated by another. A man may have thought that a song referred to himself . . . . All unkind words and malicious actions and innuendoes are stored in the memory for retaliation.
Nota - Posizione 188
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 188
Azande who, according to Evans-Pritchard, are “extremely, almost morbidly, sensitive, touched to the quick by any unkindness, insult, humiliation or hostility” (EvansPritchard, 1929: 199). Indeed, “in all [Zande] economic and social pursuits there is opportunity for offence to be given and offence to be taken where none is meant”
Nota - Posizione 190
Nota - Posizione 194
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 194
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 195
At the core of that system is a belief in witchcraft called mangu. According to Zande belief, witch-hood is a physiological condition. In the intestine of some people lies a substance that enables them to send out witchcraft against their enemies.
Nota - Posizione 197
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 200
“Only in those areas of society which were left unstructured by the political system did men accuse each other of witchcraft” (Douglas, 1966: 128). Witchcraft suspicions and accusations are the means by which the Azande express low-grade conflicts with their neighbors that can’t be addressed through government.
Nota - Posizione 201
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Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 203
Witches may use witchcraft to injure their neighbors— the persons with whom they may find themselves in low-grade conflict— but not persons outside their communities
Nota - Posizione 204
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 205
Since most, if not virtually all, commoner Zande families have witches in them, and many of them are unaware of this fact, persons accused of witchcraft are neither maligned nor even looked on with askance for being witches per se.
Nota - Posizione 207
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 211
he or one of his family members becomes ill. This is when he becomes concerned with witches, who are undoubtedly responsible for his difficulty. And it’s at these times that he seeks to identify the offending witch so that he can command him to cease his injuries, which the unwitting witch will ordinarily do.
Nota - Posizione 213
Nota - Posizione 215
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 215
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 215
To identify the witch offending him in such cases, a Zande consults an oracle called benge. Benge works as follows. Poison harvested from a special vine is fed to a fowl. The oracle consulter (or someone on his behalf) treats benge to “a speech of five or ten minutes” in which he “puts before the oracle every detail of the situation
Nota - Posizione 217
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 218
The consulter then asks the oracle a yes-or-no question about whether some neighbor is bewitching him in whatever manner befits his recent misfortune. He shakes the fowl to ensure that it has swallowed the poison,
Nota - Posizione 220
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 222
As he shakes the fowl, the consulter addresses the oracle in the following way: “If [a neighbor’s name] is guilty of bewitching my [hunt, person, etc.], poison oracle kill the fowl. If [neighbor’s name] is innocent, poison oracle spare the fowl.”
Nota - Posizione 224
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 243
Since poorer persons and women have only indirect access to benge, it stands to reason that conflicts involving them are among those most likely to go unresolved as a result.
Nota - Posizione 244
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 245
The name( s) a Zande oracle consulter puts before benge as a potential person bewitching him is not arbitrary. The reason for this is that the person( s) who he believes may be bewitching him is not arbitrary. “[ O] ne does not places names of people before the oracle in a haphazard manner. One selects only the names of those with whom one is on bad terms”
Nota - Posizione 248
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 248
According to Zande belief, witchcraft is motivated by personal animus. “A witch attacks a man when motivated by hatred, envy, jealousy, and greed
Nota - Posizione 249
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 252
“It is thus clear that allegations of witchcraft reflect the nature of social relationships
Nota - Posizione 253
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 255
Through benge an oracle consulter doesn’t seek to determine the culprits of such conflicts directly, however. He seeks to identify the witch behind his recent misfortune— the
Nota - Posizione 256
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 260
The Azande consult their oracles with the assistance, or at least observance, of one or several trusted persons.
Nota - Posizione 260
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 261
If the poison oracle “exonerates” the neighbor
Nota - Posizione 262
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 264
the consulter is likely to “warm” toward the former suspect, his animus now appearing to him unjustified.
Nota - Posizione 265
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 266
If the poison oracle “convicts”
Nota - Posizione 266
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 272
“When he is informed that the oracles have declared that he has bewitched a certain man he says that he is very sorry and is totally ignorant of having done so, blows some water from his mouth in a sign of goodwill,” recalling or “cooling” his unwitting witchcraft against the consulter, “and the matter is closed”
Nota - Posizione 274
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 276
“demonstration of remorse” following the oracle’s declaration, “set these ill feelings to rights” (PetersGolden, 2008: 13).
Nota - Posizione 277
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 277
Zande oracle effectiveness
Nota - Posizione 277
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 282
Optimal randomization
Nota - Posizione 282
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 282
If benge always vindicated the consulter’s animus or always vindicated his neighbor’s, one of the parties would be unwilling to abide by the poison oracle’s declarations.
Nota - Posizione 283
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 304
When a Zande consults benge regarding a particular person, he does so not once, but twice. The first oracular consultation is called bambata sima. The second is called gingo. “To obtain a conclusive answer the result of the first test has to be confirmed by feeding the poison to a second fowl. The
Nota - Posizione 307
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 309
For example, if in bambata sima the oracle consulter inquires of the oracle in the following manner: “If [a neighbor’s name] is guilty of bewitching my [hunt, person, etc.], poison oracle kill the fowl. If [neighbor’s name] is innocent, poison oracle spare the fowl,” in gingo he must inquire of the oracle this way: “If [a neighbor’s name] is guilty of bewitching my [hunt, person, etc.], poison oracle spare the fowl.
Nota - Posizione 311
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 338
Benge results support the argument that it tends to produce opposing results with 50 percent probability.
Nota - Posizione 339
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 341
Assuring conflict resolution
Nota - Posizione 341
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 344
The oracle declares one party’s animus justified in every case in which it declares the other party’s animus unjustified, and vice versa. This result is secured by the nature of the question an oracle consulter necessarily uses when inquiring of the oracle
Nota - Posizione 345
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 346
The oracle consulter must ask benge a yes-or-no question,
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 350
the consulter is justified in demanding an apology and recall of witchcraft from his neighbor, and his neighbor must apologize to the consulter and recall his witchcraft.
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 353
when one neighbor apologizes to the other explicitly, the benge ritual requires the apologizer to display genuineness in asking for forgiveness. This helps ensure that through benge the conflict is indeed quashed.
Nota - Posizione 355
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 355
the phrases in which he is expected to express his regret are more or less stereotyped, and even the earnest and apologetic tone of voice in which he utters them is determined by tradition.
Nota - Posizione 357
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 358
two neighbors in low-grade conflict could in principle simultaneously consult their oracles and each of their oracles could in principle vindicate their animus toward their neighbor by declaring that the other is bewitching him.
Nota - Posizione 360
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 371
In benge we trust
Nota - Posizione 371
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 374
Fortunately for the Azande, faith in the fairness and infallibility of benge is universal and nearly perfect.
Nota - Posizione 375
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 380
As a consequence of this trust, “the judgments of benge are always accepted as final”
Nota - Posizione 380
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 384
“the normal reaction to the presentation of a hen’s wing” is “one of acquiescence in which assurances of goodwill take the place of any denial”
Nota - Posizione 385
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 386
when the oracle says that he is killing a man by his witchcraft he is probably thankful for having been warned”
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 389
Neither party would contemplate behaving in a manner other than that directed by benge. And since benge always coordinates parties’ behaviors, conflict is resolved efficiently.
Nota - Posizione 390
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 393
Concluding remarks
Nota - Posizione 393