Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Please pardon our "construction."

I guess you "could say" that we're in the process of "decrypting" parts of the blog for your convenience. "Pardon our mess." But wait, was it ever really "encrypted" at all? I'm so confused. 

Furthermore, I'd say, that just "in general," we're in the process of making "some changes," (which should be very new and exciting), but (as always), we're also "tracking changes" and, of course, always have been. Obviously. 

Not to worry, everything is discoverable and everything has a litigation hold, going back all the way to, gosh I can't even think of the date(s), was it 7 years ago by now? Let's see, if I'm currently 38 years old, then I'd probably say, that everything is and has been discoverable and has had a litigation hold on it for probably 33 years by now. Yeah, that's probably right. I was probably 5 years old at the time "it started." 

It'll make sense, in the end, I promise you. Also, the people that "know" what's happening, "know" what's happening. Or do they? Actually, I can't be so sure about that. "Never Assume." 

"Just whistle while you work..." (Part 2)

Ah yes, nothing like a quick "Google Search" to bring up the lyrics. Wow, "music" has a way of bringing back such memories, don't you think? 

Whistle While You Work
Just whistle while you work
And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place
So hum a merry tune
It won't take long when there's a song to help you set the pace
And as you sweep the room
Imagine that the broom
Is someone that you love and soon you'll find you're dancing to the tune
When hearts are high the time will fly so whistle while you work
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Frank Churchill / Larry Morey
Whistle While You Work lyrics © Bourne Co.


"Just whistle while you work..." (part 1)

How does that song go again? Gosh, it's been ages. 

Let me see if YouTube or Wikipedia has anything about it. Hmmm, is this the song?

Via Wikipedia:


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

This is just a "test!" (Part 2)

Ok, so picking up on where I left off and I'll try to just "cut to the chase" a little bit here, as I need to run out soon and do an errand. Let's just continue on as a "Guest" user and not worry about logging in as a "Registered User," for the time being. Fine, no problem. 

Where were we? Oh right, so let's just click on the left side of this link and search the public docket for free as a guest user (no registration required). For your convenience, here is the link again:

Now, once you continue on as a Guest and then certify that you're "not a robot" in order to proceed, it should take you to this page:

From here, you want to type in my name so that we can bring up my legal cases at the 15th Judicial Circuit, in Palm Beach County, Florida, which is part of Florida's state legal system (as opposed to the federal legal system), in which case you can search federal cases by going to, but I don't want to confuse you at this point, so let's just stick to the state legal system in Florida and specifically, the 15th Judicial Circuit, which covers Palm Beach County, Florida.

Now, I have a pretty common name, apparently, so if you just type in my first and last name, DAVID LERNER, you're going to get a boatload of cases, the majority of which are not mine and have nothing to do with me. In order to weed out and single out just my cases, you should also input my middle name, which is ARTHUR, and that will bring up my all of my cases and only my cases that I'm "involved in" I guess. This whole thing is so surreal to me that it's just really weird for me at times that this is actually like, "real life." 

Anyway, please type in my full name into the "search criteria" and then at the bottom, click on "search" and it should bring you to this page below. I'll also include a picture of how you should be entering my name (first) and then a picture of what you should see. Again, I'm trying to make this as easy as possible for "us." 

Just go ahead and click on the very first case, at the very top and then click on click on "Docket and Documents" and then click on Docket #4, which should look like this and you can go ahead and download the document straight from the docket (pretty cool stuff right). I'll include some additional pictures of what it should look like, what you should click on so you can download it for yourself (to keep me honest) and then I'll post a picture of what the publicly available document should look like after you've downloaded it. 

So, you'll want to click on Docket Number 4, which says, " ORDER REASSIGNING INDIRECT CRIMINAL CONTEMPT CASE TO JUDGE JAMIE GOODMAN (DIVISION FX) and it should look like this (very publicly available document) below. Well, actually, it's going to bring up 2 pages, which are "essentially" the same thing, so I'll just paste 1 page and I'm going to take it a step further and act "out of an abundance" of caution and just "blackout/redact" the address for one of the Petitioners, for privacy sake (among other things). 

I know, it's weird, "their address" is all over the place, on the public docket, including the felony cases, but I just personally don't feel comfortable putting their address online (I've learned a lot, trust me). I honestly wish the public docket didn't have their address anywhere, at all, but it does, all over the place, but at this point and being that I now have some certain restrictions I need to follow, I just don't want to "go near there," literally or figuratively, so here's a picture of what you should see and what I want you to "examine" with me, as "this particular example" has nothing to do with the Petitioners.

In this one particular example, it has everything to do with the Chief Judge of the 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County Florida, which would be CHIEF JUDGE KRISTA MARX, per below. Note: you should be able to click on the picture below to enlarge it on your screen and make it a little easier to read if you need to. 

Hmmm, does this "look right" to you? Let me get more specific and quote directly from the Chief Judge Krista Marx's "ORDER," which says, "The Chief Judge is required to designate another judge to hear the indirect criminal contempt matter pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.840(e) and the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration." 

OK, so we need to take a look at 2 things I guess then. First would be the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and the second would be the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. That's easy enough and I'll paste them both below for your convenience. After this, I really gotta run out for a bit, but hopefully, I'll be back later or in the next few days and we can help "analyze" the Chief Judge's order and we'll see if we can spot any "flaws" with it. I mean, that's "assuming" (which we never like to do, never "assume") that there is "something wrong" with it. 

So, here are Florida's Rules of Criminal Procedure and you can do yourself a favor by just skipping to Rule 3.840(e), which starts on page 284, but make sure to be precise and look at page 285 as that's where part (e) is of Rule 3.840(e), as we are specifically examining what Chief Judge Krista Marx wrote and cited in reassigning this case. See what "you think" about this order from the Chief Judge of the 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County, FL. 

Also, for "our reference," here are Florida's Rules of Judicial Administration, which she also cited in her order:

I'll hopefully be back later to pick up the discussion and offer my own, personal analysis (that is if they don't arrest me or something...I should probably let my criminal defense attorney know about this, huh?) I mean, did you see the latest "stunt" that got pulled on me with an intentionally falsified VOP (Violation of Probation) Report (carried out with full and complete knowledge, beyond just deliberate ignorance or reckless disregard, but full knowledge with a capital "K") and how they issued an arrest warrant for me? Luckily, we were able to get that warrant recalled and the entire VOP report dismissed, but I wouldn't put anything past them at this point. 

I'm ready if you're ready. 

This is just a "test!" (Part 1)

Can someone, anyone, maybe any real-life lawyers or judges out there help me out here? I'm super confused as I didn't go to law school and am just trying to "figure some things out" I guess you could say. OK, so if I go to the Public Docket at the 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County, FL and look up my cases, I see some things that I'm just racking my brain over and trying to figure out. I'll paste the relevant information for you below and try to make this as easy as possible for you and (and me, obviously) so you can follow along with me. It's all public information, I'm just pulling it straight from the public docket and you can download it yourself to verify its authenticity and I'd highly encourage you to do so as well (you want to make sure to keep me "honest" as well, too). 

Alright, so if I go to this link, which I can see then takes me to the website for the "Clerk and Comptroller" of Palm Beach County, FL and I can also see that the Clerk and Comptroller for Palm Beach County, FL is Sharon R. Bock, Esq. Hmm, now I see some letters after Ms. Bock's name and they spell "Esq." I guess that mean's that Sharon R. Bock has her law license and/or is a lawyer! Well, at least that is very, very comforting to know and I can also see another, very, very comforting message when I go to the website, which explicitly states and expressly certifies, "To protect, preserve, and maintain the public records and public funds with integrity and accountability." Hallelujah!! I honestly and truly thank you for your service, Ms. Bock, as that's a very important job and I'm all about "protecting, preserving, and maintaining public records and public funds with integrity and accountability!" I salute you. 

OK, so when I get to the Clerk and Comptroller website, there is an option up top that says "Records." So, I'm going to go ahead and click on that and then from there I'm going to go ahead and click on "Court Records" and then I'm going to click on "Search Court Records." It's the part that says "Search our free online database of civil, criminal and traffic court records in Palm Beach County." OK, so if we do that, then we should end up here:

To make sure we're on the "same page" (no pun intended), it should look like this (at the bottom of this post) and you should just be able to click on it below where it says "Search Court Records" as well (I'll try and test it out after I publish the post to see if the hyperlinks are working properly, but give it a whirl and click on "Search Court Records." There's the "Public access" option, which requires no sort of "registration" and then it also says that you can "Register for free as an attorney or to access additional search options." 

So, I guess, that's my first question for you right there and maybe I'll end this blog post and continue on with another, as really, this isn't my "big, burning, question" or anything like that (and I'm getting a little "long winded" here) but how do you interpret that line, "Register for free as an attorney or to access additional search options." Do you think that means and/or implies that you need to be an attorney to "register" and then, to thus be able to access "additional search options" or no? I'm just curious. The reason I ask is that when we click on "Search Court Records" it's going to take us to a page, which says on top, "FREE PUBLIC VIEWING OF CASE INFORMATION & DOCUMENTS" and it's going to give us 2 options. The first will be to "Continue as a Guest" and the other will be to "Log in as a Registered User." 

So, my first question for you is, do you think that you need to be an attorney in order to become a "registered user" and be able to log in and have the additional search functionality or, as the website states below, "to access additional search options" or do you think that any old "Joe" can register (for free) and be able to log in as a registered user in order to access the additional search options? I'm just curious, that's all. No biggie. Seriously. But feel free to comment on the post if you wish and let me know your thoughts about the matter if you'd like. 

I haven't gotten many comments in a long time, ever since "Saloor Alim" disappeared. He used to comment on my posts all the time, but then again, it's also been, what, almost a year and a half or nearly 2 years or so (I've lost track of time, space, the space-time continuum, et al.), so maybe I'll eventually start to attract some new commenters or maybe even Saloor Alim will wish to chime in (again). I doubt it, but at this point, "all bets are off." I'll pick up with another post with what I'm "really" trying to figure out or at least "one of" the many, many, many things I'm trying to figure out I guess I should say. 

Search our free online database of civil, criminal and traffic court records in Palm Beach County.

Monday, July 8, 2019

re: Game Theory and Ethics via The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Game Theory and Ethics

First published Sat Oct 16, 2004; substantive revision Tue Jun 8, 2010
Game theory is the systematic study of interdependent rational choice. It should be distinguished from decision theory, the systematic study of individual (practical and epistemic) choice in parametric contexts (i.e., where the agent is choosing or deliberating independently of other agents). Decision theory has several applications to ethics (see Dreier 2004; Mele and Rawlings 2004).
Game theory may be used to explain, to predict, and to evaluate human behavior in contexts where the outcome of action depends on what several agents choose to do and where their choices depend on what others choose to do. (See the entry on game theory) Game theory consequently is relevant to ethics, and it is used in moral and political philosophy in a variety of ways.
We shall concentrate on the influence and use of game theory in ethics and those parts of political theory involving norms or principles of justice, ignoring questions about political and legal institutions on the one hand and questions about issues dealing with moral virtues on the other.
One can distinguish three distinctive kinds of inquiries in the literature. The first we shall call functionalist: game theory is used to identify the function of morality. It is used to describe the problem(s) that would occur in the absence of morality, and inferences about the remedial or ameliorative function of morality are drawn from this description. The second approach,contractarianism, uses game theory (especially bargaining theory) to formalize social contract theory. This older tradition understands political institutions or norms to be justified to the extent that rational agents would agree to them under suitable conditions. Bargaining theory has been used to establish, first, that there will be agreement in such conditions and, secondly, to predict the outcome of this bargaining process. Third and finally, game theory, especially evolutionary game theory, is used to “recover” many traditional moral norms or practices. In what follows, we shall consider each of these approaches and the results and problems they have encountered. We shall start with some historical background.

1. History

In 1954 the British philosopher Richard Braithwaite gave his inaugural lecture entitled Theory of Games as a Tool for the Moral Philosopher (Braithwaite 1955). In his lecture Braithwaite argued that many questions about distributive justice have the same structure as “the bargaining problem”. This problem had been analyzed some years before by John Nash, the later Nobel Prize winner, using game theory (Nash 1950). Braithwaite predicted that game theory would fundamentally change moral philosophy. His prediction came less than ten years after the publication of John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern's Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour—a book that started a completely new branch of social science and applied mathematics (Von Neumann and Morgenstern 1944).
The introduction of game theory in ethics was not entirely a new development. Game-theoretic ideas can be found, for instance, in the work of Thomas Hobbes and David Hume (see Gauthier 1969; Kavka 1986; Hampton 1986; Vanderschraaf 1998)). Nevertheless, Braithwaite's prediction has not come true. Game theory has not (yet) fundamentally changed ethics. Ten years after Braithwaite, Brian Barry published Political Argument, and a few years later David Lewis' seminal work Convention came out (Barry 1965; Lewis 1969). In the late 60's, the first of a series of publications by David Gauthier appeared. In these he used game theory to develop his moral theory (Gauthier 1967). However, until recently, the influence of game theory in ethics has not been anywhere as great as in the social sciences in general. Notwithstanding this faltering start, the introduction of game theory in moral philosophy has produced a steadily increasing flow of important publications.

2. Functionalism

Game theory has been used to analyze the function of morality. A good example is Edna Ullmann-Margalit's The Emergence of Norms, in which she argues that moral norms enable agents to cooperate and coordinate their actions in situations where the pursuit of self-interest prevents this (Ullmann-Margalit 1977). Her now classic example is that of two artillerymen who face the choice to flee from the advancing enemy or stay and operate their gun. Their gun is located in a strategically important pass. If both stay, they have a significant chance of being injured, but it is certain that the advance of the enemy will be halted. If both flee, the enemy will be able to take the mountain pass, overtake and capture them. If just one of them stays while the other flees, the brave artillerist will die in battle, but the other gunner will have just enough time to escape safely. Supposing that both try to survive this ordeal, preferably unhurt, each soldier has reason to flee. The reason for this is that they are engaged in a prisoner's dilemma (see Figure 1). Each gunner has the choice between fleeing and staying and fighting. This choice is represented in the rows for gunner #1 and the columns for gunner #2. Each cell in the matrix represents the outcome of each possible pair of choices. Each cell has a pair of numbers. The number in the lower left corner of each cell represents how gunner #1 ranks this outcome, relative to the other possible outcomes—ranks represented by “utility” numbers. The number in the upper right corner represents the ranking of this outcome by #2.
Figure 1
Figure 1
Consider the case for #1. Suppose #2 decides to stay and fight. In that case, #1 is best off by fleeing. He will survive without getting hurt. In the formal representation of the matrix, he will secure a higher ranking (3 rather than 2). Suppose #2 decides to flee. Again, #1 does best by fleeing. He will survive the battle, although he will be imprisoned for the duration of the war. If he were to stay and fight, he would certainly die; by fleeing he will secure a higher ranking (1 rather than 0). Gunner #2 is in the same position as #1: for him as well, whatever the other does, he fares best by fleeing. In short, each individual gunner would be better off fleeing, regardless of what the other does. However, it remains true—and to some, paradoxical—that both would be better off if both stood their ground. The outcome of individually rational action is Pareto-inefficient (or sub-optimal).
Suppose that both understand the structure of their predicament. Since they would see that each has good reasons to flee, they could try to rule out this possibility. For example, they could chain each other to the gun, thus preventing flight. Ullmann-Margalit argued that the situation of the gunners (i.e., the prisoner's dilemma) is structurally equivalent to many everyday interactions governed by morality. Furthermore, just as the mutual chaining commits the gunners to stay and fight, morality commits agents to avoid Pareto-inefficient or sub-optimal outcomes. Morality binds individuals to their guns, as it were. On this view, the function of morality is to prevent the failures of rationality (Mackie 1977).

3. Problems with functionalism

There are several problems with this functional analysis of morality. First, there are some well-known problems with functionalist explanations in the social sciences. The fact that a practice or an institution has a particular function need not explain either its emergence or its maintenance. It might be argued, for instance, that the function of the public education system is to educate the young, the function of the state to serve the interests of the ruling classes, or that of religion to serve as the opiate of the masses. However, until it can be shown that these apparent functions are causally effective in bringing into existence and maintaining the educational system, the state, or religion respectively, no explanation has been provided. Similarly, even if moral norms and practices serve to bring about Pareto-superior outcomes not realizable through uncoordinated individually rational action, no explanation of the existence and persistence of morality is provided unless it is shown that this function somehow motivates human action and or in some other way is causally effective in bringing about mutually beneficial outcomes.
Secondly, it is open to question whether morality coincides with mutually advantageous or Pareto-superior outcomes in the manner suggested. Many thinkers have argued that we often are morally required to act in ways which are disadvantageous to all. An obvious example is the often-affirmed prohibition against selling oneself into slavery. It might very well be advantageous to both slave and master (the slave would be able to pay off his debts and the master would have a practical solution for the daily housework), yet it is morally and legally prohibited.
Third, the functionalist account clearly assumes that the demands of morality conflict with individual rationality. Morality is supposed to correct problems of threatening Pareto-inefficiency which would be the result of unfettered (interdependent) individual rational action. On the functionalist account the moral agent seems ipso facto to be irrational (barring considerations of guilt-avoidance or regret). This then begs the question ‘why be moral?’. Functionalism precludes an answer to this question.
Fourth and finally, the objective of functionalist accounts is of limited interest to moral theorists. Functionalism appears to seek explanations of the emergence and persistence of moral norms and practices. Moral theorists are not interested principally in such explanations. Rather, they usually seek to understand morality with the aim of ascertaining what we should do or what we are obligated to do. It is morality as a guide to action and to life that is the principal interest of the moral philosopher. Morality here is normative, a source of guidance. Suppose that there were a plausible functional explanation of particular moral norms. Does that explanation show that I am, in fact, obligated to follow these norms when they apply to me? There seems to be a difference between (a) determining the function(s) of morality and (b) ascertaining whether a particular set of norms and practices are, in fact, the ones we should follow. It is not clear how this question is answered by functionalist accounts.

4. Bargaining theory and contractarianism

As we saw above, one of the criticisms of functionalism is that it does not explain the connection between individual choice and the emergence and persistence of moral norms. Morality is introduced as something outside of individual rational choice. In response to this difficulty, many theorists have tried to understand morality as the result of individual rational choice. Roughly, we can distinguish two strategies. First, there are those who model morality as the result of a one-time choice of a very large collection of agents, the moral community. Secondly, there are those who approach morality as the result of a series of repeated small-scale interactions. We will discuss this second approach in section 7. Here we discuss the approach that regards morality as the intended result of the interactions between rational agents under equally ideal circumstances. This is an old idea in moral and political philosophy: it is the idea of the social contract (see the entry on contractarianism). Morality is interpreted as the outcome of a bargaining process.
The introduction of game theory, especially those parts of the theory that are concerned with bargaining (so-called cooperative game theory and bargaining theory), has stimulated interest in social contract theory over the last decades. John Harsanyi, Richard Braithwaite, John Rawls, Brian Barry, and David Gauthier have used the game and decision theory to formulate versions of the theory (Harsanyi 1955; Braithwaite 1955; Barry 1965; Rawls 1971; Gauthier 1986). Invoking bargaining theory, they attempted to show (1) that rational agents in a suitably idealized bargaining situation will agree on a specific, unique distribution of the benefits of cooperation, (2) what this distribution looks like, (3) that this distribution determines what is just, and (4), in case of Gauthier, that rational agents will comply with the terms of the bargain.
It is important for these theories exactly how the bargaining situation is characterized. Gauthier, as well as many others, thinks of it as a prisoner's dilemma. That is, the predicament of the parties in the ideal bargaining position is structurally equivalent to the situation of the artillerists as we described above. Without any cooperation the gunners are doomed to flee and spend the remainder of the war in captivity. Suppose that it is possible to make binding agreements in this situation. Does this solve the problem of threatening Pareto-inefficiency? It does not because it is not obvious howthe benefits of cooperation will be distributed. It might seem that in this case there is only one way in which these can be distributed, but appearances deceive. The artillerists could decide to follow a mixed strategy. A mixed strategy is a lottery over the available strategies of each individual. For example, the gunners could decide to flee with a probability of, say, 1/3 and stay and fight with a probability of 2/3. (It should be noted that the idea of a mixed strategy usually is introduced in the context of so-called cardinal utilities. Whereas before the numbers in the matrix (0, 1, 2 and 3) only signified the ranking of the outcome, here it is assumed that the numbers provide some information about the relative ranking of the outcome. For example, the utility of “2” of the cooperative outcome means that the agent is indifferent between this outcome and a gamble which offers her “0” (the worst outcome) with probability 1/3 and “3” (her best outcome) with probability 2/3. (For a detailed discussion of cardinal utility theory see Section 3.5 of the entry on interpretations of probability). From here onwards, we assume that the numbers in the matrix are such cardinal utilities.)
The gunners realize that they each individually can realize at least the one but worst outcome of non-cooperation. This means that the outcome of their agreement should be at least as good as the non-cooperative outcome. Therefore, the distribution that they will agree to should at least be 1. Suppose that the gunners have a pair of dice. Now they can realize cooperative distributions other than 2 each. For example, if they agree to throw both dice and if a total of 6 or less comes up #1 will flee (thus realizing a utility value of 3). However, if the total of both dice is more than 6, #1 will stay and fight the enemy (realizing his worst outcome of 0). The expected utility of this deal for #1 is 5/12·3 + 7/12·0 = 1.25, while #2 can expect 1.75 from this deal. In this way the gunners can realize a whole range of outcomes by varying the chances that improves on the non-cooperative outcome. These outcomes form the bargaining area (see Figure 2).
Figure 2
Figure 2
Intuitively it may seem straightforward that the outcome of the agreement between #1 and #2 will be (2,2). Formally this is anything but straightforward. Every outcome that gives each gunner an expected utility of more than 1 seems rationally acceptable. Which one will rational gunners select? Within bargaining theory, the part of game theory that deals with these problems, there are two approaches that seek to answer this question (Binmore 1998, chapter 1). First, there is the traditional axiomatic approach as developed in the context of cooperative game theory. This branch of game theory assumes that, once rational agents have come to an agreement, they will comply with it. The task of the theorist is to consider the bargaining area and determine which outcome(s) would satisfy a number of reasonable requirements of a rational outcome of the negotiations. Things such as the names of the parties concerned should not matter for the result, whereas their preferences do matter. This approach has been very influential in game-theoretic social contract theory. Harsanyi, Rawls, Barry, and Gauthier all have used axiomatic approaches to justify their favorite version. Their verdict in the case of the gunners is the same: the rational thing to agree to is a distribution that gives each gunner an expected utility of 2. (Note that this verdict does not tell the gunners how they should realize this outcome. There are two ways in which they could secure an expected outcome of (2, 2). They could both stay and fight or they could flip a fair coin to decide who gets to stay and who is allowed to flee.)
The axiomatic approach pays no attention to the structure of the process of negotiation. All it requires as input is information about the pay-offs of the parties. Whereas it is true that sometimes it does not really matter how exactly the negotiation process is structured, sometimes it is very important. For example, if it is the case that #1 can make a claim and all #2 can do is to accept or refuse, #1 does best by offering #2 an expected utility of 1.00001 and claim 2.99999 for himself. Given the rules of the negotiation process #2 will have to accept this since the alternative is (slightly) worse. On the other hand, if the rules allow for exchanges of claims and offers the situation is quite different. Therefore, if you want to predict what the result of the negotiation process between rational agents will be, it is crucial to know the rules of negotiation in detail as well as the bargaining area. In addition, it is important to know whether the parties will keep to the agreement. For if this is not the case, it is unlikely that the parties concerned will accept the agreement instead of an agreement that will turn out to be binding.
Therefore, it is better to think of the bargaining process as a series of possible moves in a game that precedes the game that the gunners face. This is the second approach, which regards bargaining processes as non-cooperative games. The solution to such a game then corresponds to the solution of the bargaining process. On this approach, one needs to pay a lot of attention to detail. Consequently the analysis is complicated and often messy. (This is another reason why the axiomatic approach is so attractive to some.)
However, it is very well possible that the solution to the game and the solution based on the axiomatic approach are identical. In fact, this is what you would expect if the proposed axiomatic solution is at all plausible. This intuition is the driving force of the so-called Nash program (Nash 1950). This program aims at evaluating axiomatic solutions by checking whether the outcome of a negotiation game leads to the same outcome. The success of the Nash program is crucial for the plausibility of the classic axiomatic theories of the social contract. Such theories regard morality as the result of (hypothetical) negotiations between ideally rational agents but do not bother to spell out exactly how the parties reach this result. Consequently, if there is not at least the promise of such a detailed analysis, as is promised by the Nash program, the result they present lacks plausibility. (See also Rubinstein 1982 and Binmore 1998 for more recent treatments of the bargaining problem.)

5. Morals by agreement

One of the most influential contractarian theories currently around is that of David Gauthier. His theory, however, is different from other contractarian approaches, not only in its extensive use of game- and bargaining theory, but also in the following respect. One of the difficulties we signaled with regards to the functionalist approach is that it provides no answer to the question “Why be moral?” It is here that Gauthier's contractarian theory distinguishes itself from those of Rawls, Harsanyi, and others. Gauthier not only uses bargaining theory to determine, as Rawls and Harsanyi sought to do, the content of fundamental moral principles; he also tries to show that rational agents will act morally. For this reason we discuss it in more detail than the others.
Gauthier's moral theory, “morals by agreement” (Gauthier 1986), is a theory about the nature and rationality of morality. (See also Section 3 of the entry on contractarianism). It consists of four parts. The first is an account of practical reason and the natural condition of humankind, much of it familiar to rational choice theorists and to contractarian moral theorists (Gauthier 1986, chapters 2–4). Next is an account of the principles of conduct that rational agents would hypothetically agree to—a kind of “social contract” (Gauthier 1986, chapter 5). The third element is a controversial revisionist account of practical rationality essential to his argument aiming to show that virtually everyone under normal circumstances has reason to accept and to abide by the constraints imposed by these principles (Gauthier 1986, chapter 6). Lastly, Gauthier argues that the principles in question are principles of morality, an argument which makes implicit reference to a functionalist account of moral norms (Gauthier 1986, chapters 7–8). The third part is Gauthier's answer to the question “Why be moral?”. It touches upon some very fundamental issues in game- and decision theory, which is why we discuss it a bit further here.
As Hobbes already realized, it is one thing to come to an agreement; it is quite another thing to perform one's part of an agreement. Morality, at least as it is traditionally conceived, often requires us to sacrifice our interests or aims. This is, at least on the face of it, contrary to what rationality requires. Gauthier's response to this is to argue that we misconceive practical rationality, even instrumental rationality, if we think the aim of rationality determines in any straightforward way the manner in which we should reason or deliberate. The aim of rationality—to do as well as possible—does not necessarily determine our principle of decision—for instance, to choose the best alternative at each moment of choice. In terms of the utility-maximizing conception of rationality which he has accepted until recently (Gauthier, forthcoming), Gauthier argues that the aim of maximizing utility does not mean that we should, at each decision point, maximize utility. Instead we should reason in ways which are utility maximizing. Just as it is sometimes the case that we do best or at least well by not aiming to do best or well, so it may sometimes be that the utility maximizing course of action is not to maximize utility at each decision point. Given that our mode of reasoning or deliberation itself affects our prospects, our aims or purposes are sometimes best served by our not seeking to do best at every decision point.
Gauthier's discussion in Morals by Agreement is conducted in terms of “dispositions to choose” and specifically of “constrained maximization”, the disposition to cooperate with other cooperators even in circumstances where defecting is more advantageous. In later work Gauthier develops his revisionist account of practical rationality in terms of rational plans and intentions and of modes of deliberation. If we grant that agents may do better in any number of circumstances by acting in ways that are not “straightforwardly maximizing”, the problem is to determine how acting as a constrained maximizer is rational. In the book Gauthier assumes that if our dispositions to choose is rational, then our choices determined by these dispositions are also rational. A number of theorists have followed Thomas Schelling in arguing that it is often rational to do things that are irrational, but they argue that the latter do not in the circumstances cease being irrational. Gauthier thinks that if a course of action is better than any other in its effects, then it may under certain conditions be rational to adopt it and to intend to carry out its element even if some of them are not, from the standpoint of the moment of execution, the best thing to do in terms of one's aims or purposes. He seeks therefore to establish that if a mode of deliberation or a plan of action is rational, then acting according to it can be rational even if so acting requires doing things that are not, considered from the standpoint of the moment of action, optimal. Principled action constrains one's action, and it is rational to be so constrained. Thus, if Gauthier is right, it can be rational to abide by certain norms or principles, even when they require acting in ways that are not best from the standpoint of the time of action. Much of Gauthier's work since Morals by Agreement develops and defends this revisionist account of practical rationality. (See Gauthier 1994, 1996, 1998a and b. For an alternative revisionist account, see McClennen 1990).
Gauthier's defense of “constrained maximization” constitutes a major revision of standard game- and decision theory. Orthodox theory focuses upon the rationality of actions at the time of choice. The mode of deliberation itself about actions falls out of the scope of the theory. (Or rather, orthodox theory presents itself as such a mode of deliberation.) Some critics have argued against including the mode of deliberation in the scope of the theory (for example, Velleman 1997). Most game theorists, however, argue instead that if it is feasible to choose the mode of deliberation, this choice itself can be modeled as a move in a more complex decision game, thus including Gauthier's proposal into standard theory (for example, Binmore 1994, p. 179–182).

6. Some problems with the contractarian approach.

The contractarian approach—and Gauthier's theory is not different in this respect—presumes a fundamental connection between rationality and morality, just like functionalism. However, unlike the functionalist project, the contractarian approach has a sophisticated argument as to why this should be so. Moral norms (or institutions, or whatever is the object of the theory in question) are rationally acceptable according to the contractarian tradition only if there is no feasible alternative arrangement where all parties concerned would be better off. We can make this claim more vivid. Imagine that parties are bargaining over what norm to use to share a cake. Rational parties would not agree to a norm that would leave some cake on the table going to waste. Similarly with moral norms: rational agents would not agree to a norm that could be expected to leave mutual advantages unexploited. Therefore, according to the contractarian's conception of morality, it is necessarily the case that the correct morality leads to Pareto-efficient outcomes. For this reason, rational choice contractarianism is often regarded as revisionist in its implications. The claim is not that common sense or ordinary morality leads to Pareto-efficient results (if followed). Instead, the claim of rational choice contractarianism is that the correct account of binding moral norms is one that implies that if these norms are followed, the outcomes will be Pareto-efficient.
Critics have long argued that it's not clear why the outcome of hypothetical agreement should influence what agents outside of the idealized circumstances of “the social contract” should do. Some have argued that hypothetical contracts (or promises) do not bind. However, this is to misunderstand the nature of these theories; hypothetical rational agreement is not meant to be promissory. Rather, it is first of all heuristic, a mechanism designed to determine the nature and content of mutually beneficial, fair principles.
Whereas the remarks above address all forms of contractarianism, there are some specific problems with versions that rely as heavily on game-theoretic bargaining theory as that of Gauthier and the others. The most fundamental seems to be the plausibility of the Nash program: is there really a rational solution to all bargaining problems that can be specified and tested with the use of non-cooperative game theory? Similarly, how can we be sure that there is always one unique solution, or are bargaining problems to some extent underdetermined? The plurality of bargaining solution concepts that are discussed in bargaining theory is a bad omen in this regard. There are reasons to doubt that the game-theoretic approach to bargaining can really help us predict the outcome of the negotiations of rational agents. Both the axiomatic approach and the non-cooperative game approach proceed from the assumption that there is a unique, rational outcome of such negotiations. While that may be plausible in some situations, it is far from obvious that this is always the case. That is, the outcome of negotiations often seems rationally underdetermined (Sugden 1991). Non-rational factors, such as salience, precedence, etc., are far more important for determining the result of such negotiations than standard bargaining and game theory lead us to believe.

7. Evolutionary game theory and ethics

There is also another kind of worry, one which leads naturally to the third major movement in game theory and ethics. Contractarians like Gauthier understand the fundamental norms that govern us as issuing from a (hypothetical) choice situation which would have a very large number of agents bargaining over different principles or social arrangements. However, it is an open question whether that is an appropriate way to model the rational choice process that leads to the emergence of morality.
At this point, there is a fundamental difference with the third way in which game theory had been applied to ethics. This third way is evolutionary game-theory. Rather than regarding morality as the intended result of a complex large scale bargaining process between fully informed and fully rational agents, the evolutionary approach moves away from all these assumptions. First, morality is seen as the unintended side-effect of the interactions of agents. Secondly, morality emerges from a series of repeated interactions between small groups of agents (most models deal with two-person interactions only). To put this in functionalist terms: morality is not to solve one problem, but frequently re-occurring problems. Third, rather than assuming full information and full rationality, evolutionary game theory makes less demanding assumptions of the cognitive and deliberative skills of the agents. This can lead to fundamentally different results.
We can illustrate this as follows. Rousseau describes the state of nature as one that resembles the so-called Stag Hunt (Rousseau 1964, p. 166–167). (See Skyrms 2004 for a contemporary treatment of this game.) Imagine two hunters who can choose to hunt for hare. Their chances of catching a hare are not affected by the actions of others. However, both prefer to have venison for dinner, but if they were to hunt for stag, they will only be successful if the other does so as well.
Figure 3
Figure 3: The stag hunt
Suppose #1 and #2 coordinate on (Hare, Hare). This equilibrium is strictly Pareto-inferior to (Stag, Stag). Whereas contractarian choice would have it that (Stag, Stag) is the correct norm to settle upon, evolutionary game theory teaches us that it is unlikely that the Pareto-efficient equilibrium will be selected in a process of repeated interactions. What is more, the Pareto-efficient equilibrium is unstable: occasional deviations from this equilibrium will lead the population as a whole to coordinate on (hare, hare) rather than (stag, stag).
Presumably this is true of some of our actual norms—social, legal, or moral. They may be deficient relative to other norms, especially those that issue from the sorts of idealized social choice situations of contractarian moral theory. However, most of our actual norms are often stable, and it is not clear that we have reason to depart from them. Therefore, we are left wondering if the norms discovered by game theoretic bargaining theory are norms that are feasible for most societies, communities and groups. Since “ought” implies “can”, we have reason to doubt that the contractarian approach gives us a correct account of the morality we ought to follow.
The main result of the evolutionary approach so far is the “recovery” of many existing moral intuitions and norms. Thus, evolutionary game theorists writing about ethics (as well as moral philosophers using evolutionary game theory) have shown that among not-so-fully rational agents many of the norms of coordination and cooperation can emerge that are the object of inquiry of the more traditional moral theories. (For example, Sugden 1986; Binmore 1994, 1998; Skyrms 1996.) Furthermore, Skyrms (1996) and others have demonstrated that otherwise self-interested agents will develop reasoning heuristics such as the Golden Rule (do to others as you want to be done by) and a version of Gauthier's “constraint maximization” under appropriate circumstances. That is, they show that evolution favors not only the emergence of patterns of behavior that conform to moral standards, but also favor the development of cognitive heuristics that have all the characteristics of moral reasoning.

8. Some remarks on the evolutionary approach

Most authors who have embraced the evolutionary approach, are quick to point out that this approach avoids much of the criticism raised against the previous two approaches. First, the evolutionary approach provides a genuine explanation of the emergence and persistence of moral norms. Norms are the unintended side-effect of the actions of (boundedly) rational agents and emerge in the process of repeated interactions. On the evolutionary approach, the “function” of a moral norm is to select a stable equilibrium, in a situation in which there is more than one. Thus stable norms can be Pareto-inefficient. There is no fundamental link between efficiency and morality on the evolutionary approach. Its focus is on equilibrium and not on efficiency. This is also the reason why an agent in such a population should follow that norm. That is, the fact that the other members of a population follow a norm explains why, and justifies that, an individual in such a population will do so as well. As a consequence, the evolutionary approach provides an answer to the question “Why be moral?” Following an existing norm is individually rational. Furthermore, no unorthodox revisions of choice theory need to be accepted to achieve this result, which is a big advantage over Gauthier's claims for “constrained maximization”.
However, there is also some reason to be wary of the success of the evolutionary approach. For just like the functionalist approach and unlike the contractarian project, its focus is on explanation. Evolutionary game theory is primarily used to explain the emergence and stability of existing norms. It does not supply the instruments to be critical of the content of these norms. It provides no justification of a code of conduct as one that is decidedly moral (however, see Binmore 1994, 1998).
This tendency is especially worrisome when we see in the literature on the evolution of behavior explanations for nasty dispositions such as the propensity of men to rape, the human inclination to make status distinctions based on race, and the like. So it is not clear to what extend this approach provides an alternative to existing moral theories. It is probably best understood as a form of social theory, albeit one that is ambivalent as to whether it is an empirically informed theory or a form of a priori theorizing (Sugden 2001). Of course, one may come to think that evolutionary game theory is not an alternative to moral theory as much as a vehicle for undermining or debunking moral claims. If the source of our moral dispositions and judgments is essentially the same as the nasty inclinations mentioned above, then perhaps we should conclude that our moral judgments are false or unjustified and our moral dispositions untrustworthy. Evolutionary game theory, on this interpretation, would support a kind of moral skepticism (see Section 1 of the entry on moral skepticism). Some answers to this skepticism may be found, for instance, in Gibbard (1990).

9. Some abstract implications of the use of game theory in ethics

Regardless of the merits of the three approaches we discussed above, there are some remarkable insights that the application of game theory offers to the moral theorist. As we noted above, there are many games with multiple equilibria. This is especially the case with iterated plays of particular games such as the prisoner's dilemma. One of the implications of this fact is that insofar as these games are helpful representations or models of our social interactions, we have reason to expect much indeterminacy in the world. As a consequence, we have reason to be wary of moral theorists that claim universality and generality for their specific normative recommendations (Hardin 1988, 2003).
Secondly, game theory makes clear that in any sufficiently large population we can expect determinate mixes of behavioral dispositions. Consider the well-known Hawk-Dove game (Smith 1982):
Figure 4
Figure 4: the Hawk-Dove game
The two equilibria in pure strategies in the simple 2 X 2 game result from each player adopting a different strategy. If we think of “Hawk” and “Dove” strategies as representing moral dispositions or characters, then we may have reason to expect that human populations will consist of agents with different characters, so to speak (see also Frank 1988; Smith 1982; Skyrms 1996). What is more, given this analysis it is far from clear that the moral theorist is in any position to recommend the same disposition, i.e., the same virtue, for all agents in this population: some should be “Hawks” others “Doves” (see also Kuhn 2004).
Whereas the latter two observations point to original insights for moral theorists, we cannot avoid mentioning some of the criticisms that have been formulated against the application of game theory to ethics. The most fundamental ones concern the implicit anthropology of the rational agent. The question is whether everything that is relevant for moral theory about the agent can be captured by the rather one-dimensional picture of rational man as proposed by game theory. The agent is supposed to be completely characterized by his preference rankings over outcomes and his beliefs at each stage of the game. However, morally important distinctions—e.g., between differences in character—have no place in this characterization.
We can illustrate this worry with the way the concept of reputation is used in models of altruistic cooperation. Recent game theory has made use of the notion of a player's reputation in efforts to explain cooperation in iterated plays of games such as the prisoner's dilemma (Kreps and Wilson 1982). In many repeated prisoner dilemma games it pays to have a reputation to be cooperative. However, it is not clear what exactly it means to have a reputation in these contexts. Ordinarily, a reputation is what is generally believed about a person's character. In these models, on the other hand, a reputation is simply a history of the player's moves in similar games. There is a morally relevant difference between the two. What do we believe when we learn that a merchant is honest? Ordinarily we suppose this means that he is the kind of person who will not cheat others, for instance, customers, even in situations where it might pay him to do so. Why might the merchant do this? While another merchant doesn't cheat because (or when) it does not pay, our merchant is honest and does not cheat because of his honesty, that is, his character. Ordinarily, this makes a big difference in how we would judge on these two merchants. Both behave cooperatively, but only the latter is praiseworthy for his honesty. Game theory and utility theory generally has no room for this distinction (see Morris 1999). (Of relevance here is Brennan and Pettit, 2004.)

10. Conclusion

Most contemporary authors in ethics who use game theory in their work are either contractarians or evolutionary theorists. The two approaches represent two different combinations of game theory and ethics. The contractarian tradition, with its emphasis on fully rational agents and bargaining, represents a more traditional use of game theory. The evolutionary approach, on the other hand, with its emphasis on bounded rational agents and repeated interactions, is a more recent arrival. To most experts in the field a synthesis of these approaches seems highly desirable. (Binmore 1994, 1998 is to date the only attempt.)


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While I'm in "some sort of mood," let's take a "look back" at Sun Tzu and his "famous quote," which is that "All warfare is based on deception."

Of course, for "our" reference and to give credit where credit is due, please find the link for your convenience:

BTW, I love "philosophers." Love, love, love. I majored in philosophy as an undergrad, though I had multiple majors at times and also changed majors at times too and also transferred from one university to another after 2 years, which was just another "complexifier," but eventually, you just sort of need to stick with something if you intend on fulfilling the necessary requirements to actually graduate with a degree, which in my case, as an undergrad, was a Bachelor of Arts and I'd describe it as a broad, liberal arts degree and background. Graduate school was a different story and a story for another day, but I'll try to remember to "get to it" at some point. 

There's just only so much time in my day and as mentioned, I really just don't feel like I have enough "computing power" at the moment, especially RAM (definitely not enough RAM) and I'm getting that dreaded "spinning wheel" due to a lack of high quality, fast, strategically configured RAM. I mean, my CPU, my GPU, my RAM, everything is just "down" at the moment, I feel. Ugh. 

Sun Tzu

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If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; ... if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
Sun Tzu (孫子 Sūn Zǐ; c. 6th century BC) was a Chinese generalmilitary strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, a widely influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking. He is also known as Sun Wu (孫武; Sūn Wǔ), and Chang Qing (長卿; Cháng Qīng).

The Art of War[edit]

Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003)

Chapter I · Detail Assessment and Planning[edit]

  • 兵者,詭道也。故能而示之不能,用而示之不用,近而示之遠,遠而示之近,
    • All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
    • Variant translations
    • A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective.
  • 實而備之,強而避之,怒而撓之,卑而驕之,佚而勞之,親而離之,出其不意,攻其不備。
    • If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
    • Note: "If his forces are united, separate them" is also interpreted: "If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them."
  • 亂而取之
    • Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
  • 卑則驕之
    • Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.
  • 孫子曰:國之上下,死生之地,存亡之道,不可不察也。
    • The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.
  • 夫未戰而庙算胜者,得算多也;未戰而庙算不勝者,得算少也。
    • The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.
  • 将听吾计,用之必胜,留之;将不听吾计,用之必败,去之;
    • The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat: — let such a one be dismissed!
  • 怒而挠之
    • If your opponent is of choleric temperament, seek to irritate him.

Chapter II · Waging War[edit]

  • 故兵貴勝,不貴久。
    • What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.
  • 近于师者贵卖,贵卖则百姓财竭
    • Where the army is, prices are high; when prices rise the wealth of the people is exhausted.
  • 兵久而国利者,未之有也。
    • There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.

Chapter III · Strategic Attack[edit]

  • 上兵伐謀
    • What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.
  • 知彼知己,百戰不殆;不知彼而知己,一勝一負;不知彼,不知己,每戰必殆
    • It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
    • Variant translations
    • If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
    • Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles. Know yourself but not your enemy, find level of loss and victory. Know not thy enemy nor yourself, wallow in defeat every time.
    • Literal translation: Know [the] other, know [the] self, hundred battles without danger; not knowing [the] other but know [the] self, one win one loss; not knowing [the] other, not knowing [the] self, every battle must [be] lost.
  • 故用兵之法,十則圍之,五則攻之,倍則分之, 敵則能戰之,少則能守之,不若則能避之。
    • It is the rule in war, if ten times the enemy's strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, be able to divide them; if equal, engage them; if fewer, defend against them; if weaker, be able to avoid them.
  • 是故百戰百勝,非善之善者也;不戰而屈人之兵,善之善者也。
    • For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.
    • Variant translations
    • Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
    • The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities... It is best to win without fighting.
  • 古之所善戰者,勝於易勝者也。
    • What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.
  • 知可战与不可战者胜。
    • He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.
  • 以虞待不虞者胜。
    • He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.
  • 凡用兵之法,全國為上;破國次之;全軍為上,破軍次之;全旅為上,破旅次之;全卒為上,破卒次之;全伍為上,破伍次之。
    • In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.
    • Variant translations
    • It is best to keep one’s own state intact; to crush the enemy’s state is only second best.
  • 是故上攻伐谋
    • Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.

Chapter IV · Disposition of the Army[edit]

  • 是故勝兵先勝而後求戰,敗兵先戰而後求勝。
    • Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
    • Variant: Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.
  • 见胜不过众人之所识,非善之善者也。
    • To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.
  • 守则不足,攻则有余
    • One defends when his strength is inadequate; he attacks when it is abundant.
  • 孫子曰:昔之善戰者,先為不可勝,以待敵之可勝,不可勝在己,可勝在敵。故善戰者,能為不可勝,不能使敵必可勝。故曰:勝可知,而不可為。
    • Sunzi said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. Thus the good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat, but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy.
    • Translation by Lionel Giles

Chapter V · Forces[edit]

  • 治众如治寡,分数是也。
    • Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.
  • 积水之激,至于漂石者,势也。鸷鸟之疾,至于毁折者,节也。
    • When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.
  • 鸷鸟之疾,至于毁折者,节也。
    • The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.
  • 故善战者,求之于势,不责于人。
    • A skilled commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates.
    • VariantThe expert in battle seeks his victory from strategic advantage and does not demand it from his men.

Chapter VI · Weaknesses and Strengths[edit]

  • 微乎微乎,至于无形;神乎神乎,至于无声;故能为敌之司命。
    • Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate.
    • Alternative translation: Subtle and insubstantial, the expert leaves no trace; divinely mysterious, he is inaudible. Thus he is master of his enemy's fate.
    • Alternative translation: O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands.
  • 人皆知我所以勝之形,而莫知我所以制勝之形。
    • All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
  • 故形兵之极,至于无形,无形,则深间不能窥,上智不能谋。
    • The ultimate in disposing one's troops is to be without ascertainable shape. Then the most penetrating spies cannot pry in nor can the wise lay plans against you.
  • 故善战者,至人而不至于人。
    • And therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.
  • 故敌逸能劳之,饱能饥之,安能动之。出其所不趋,趋其所不意。
    • When the enemy is at ease, be able to weary him; when well fed, to starve him; when at rest, to make him move. Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
  • Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
    • Lionel Giles translation

Chapter VII · Military Maneuvers[edit]

  • 圍師必闕
    • To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.

Chapter VIII · Variations and Adaptability[edit]

  • 故用兵之法,無恃其不來,恃吾有以待之;無恃其不攻,恃吾有所不可攻也。
    • The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.
    • Translation by Lionel Giles

Chapter IX · Movement and Development of Troops[edit]

  • 数赏者,窘也;数罚者,困也;
    • Too frequent rewards indicate that the general is at the end of his resources; too frequent punishments that he is in acute distress.
  • In war, numbers alone confer no advantage. Do not advance relying on sheer military power.
  • 令素行以教其民,则民服。令不素行以教其民,则民不服。令素行者,与民相得也。
    • A leader leads by example not by force.

Chapter X · Terrain[edit]

  • 将弱不严,教道不明,将之过也。
    • If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.
  • 故戰道必勝,主曰無戰,必戰可也;戰道不勝,主曰必戰,无戰可也;
    • If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler's bidding.
  • 进不邀功,退不避罪,唯人是保,而利合于主,国之宝也。
    • The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.
  • 視卒如愛子,故可與之俱死。
    • Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.

Chapter XI · The Nine Battlegrounds[edit]

  • 吾士无余财,非恶货也。无余命,非恶寿也。
    • If our soldiers are not overburdened with money, it is not because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not unduly long, it is not because they are disinclined to longevity.
  • 兵之情主速,乘敌所不及,由不虞之途,攻其所不备也。
    • Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy's unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.
  • 施无法之赏,悬无政之令。犯三军之众,若使一人。
    • Bestow rewards without respect to customary practice; publish orders without respect to precedent. Thus you may employ the entire army as you would one man.

Chapter XII · Attacking with Fire[edit]

  • 非利不動,非得不用,非危不戰。主不可以怒而興師,將不可以慍而致戰;合于利而動,不合于利而止。怒可以復喜,慍可以復悅,亡國不可以復存,死者不可以復生。故明君慎之,良將警之,此安國全軍之道也。
    • Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical. No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are. Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life. Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.
    • Translation by Lionel Giles

Chapter XIII · Intelligence and Espionage[edit]

  • 敌间之来间我者,因而利之,导而舍之,故反间可得而用也;
    • It is essential to seek out enemy agents who have come to conduct espionage against you and to bribe them to serve you. Give them instructions and care for them. Thus doubled agents are recruited and used.
  • 故明君賢將,所以動而勝人,成功出于眾者,先知也。
    • Now the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass those of ordinary men is foreknowledge.
  • 故三军之事,莫亲于间,赏莫厚于间,事莫密于间,
    • Of all those in the army close to the commander none is more intimate than the secret agent; of all rewards none more liberal than those given to secret agents; of all matters none is more confidential than those relating to secret operations.
  • 此(译注:用间)兵之要,三军之所恃而动也。
    • Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move.