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Game Theory vs Gandhian Theory

Definitely cheers to Obama for some hardspeaking to spolied Americans, otherwise it was difficult to get the Economic of America on rails by him.

However, many American strategiests have been relying on "Game theory" invented by Von Neumann & John Nash etc in not the fields of Market, Banks, Economy only but also designing their strategy on Terrorism, Afghhnistan, Pakistan & Iraq etc. on the basis of "Nash Equillibrium".

Neumann & Nash themselves said that the outcome of Game theory depend upon the "mutual interest" of Co-operative partners or "self- interest" in case of Non-coperative partners durinng any conflict. Nowehere, any Game Theorists have ever mentioned that outcome of applying Game theory on any Social contexts will be determined by the Truth.

However, John C Harsanyi advocated that Game theory is applicable in social contexts also. He also has been awarded with the Noble Prize in 1994 for his contributions & expanding the scope of Game theory. Award of Nobel prize to many in the area of Game Theory has particualrly provided lot of recognition to path breaking revolution to determinate what was considered "indeterminate" a few years ago. Making of "Beautiful Mind" on the life of John Nash also created lot of awareness & curiosity about this subject, although John Nash was basically a Mathematician, and incidentally got involved with Game Theory at Princeton.

Relying on Mathematics to analyse Social contexts is good but using Mathematics to pursue Greed can only lead to explosions or implosions. Recent Global Financial crisis has clearly exposed the "Greed Factor" in the underlying philosophies of not only Banks & Corporate entities, but also in the activities of finest research & academic Institutions of US.

For example, Game theory was mainly invented to pursue self-interest as claimed by the Inventors themselves. What is self-interest ....if it is not Greed in other words?

For an Individual or entity operating in competitive environemnt, the use of game theory may be OK. But in the context of Socio-political areas it is better if the use of Gandhian Theory is promoted instead of Game theory so that chaos caused by Theories based on inadeuete axioms or false premises is avoided.

Knowledge is not an always a means to pursue self-interest, this was unequivocably stated by Gandhi in his lifelong experimentation with truth.

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Comment by viduur on April 11, 2009 at 10:43
Game theory is a typical American Invention to understand those phenomenon in analytical manner, which were hitherto considered beoynd the scope of analytical approach so far. However, the axioms of Game theory are based on material expectations & popular emotions like Greed & Fear etc, which limit the scope of its viability & application.

Limitations of Game Theory can only help us in understanding the infinite scope of Gandhian Theories, which is not limited by the axioms based on the popular emotions. Gandhian Philosophy has only one axiom i.e. TRUTH, therefore its viability & applicabilty is also infinite
Comment by viduur on April 10, 2009 at 19:06
There is one more article on this Topic published in the recent eJournal USA: Nonviolent Paths to Social Change (March 2009), a US Govt Journal dedicated to Non-violence

The Prisoner’s Dilemma and Other Opportunities

By David P. Barash

Game theory suggests that, although it is not at all simple to accomplish, cooperation can often be shown to be preferable to conflict.

The problem seems simple enough: Why don’t people cooperate? Or at least, why don’t they cooperate more than they currently do? After all, if I helped you and in return you helped me, wouldn’t both of us be better off? Similarly, wouldn’t everyone benefit if we all followed the path of nonviolence? In short, what is so difficult about the question famously posed by U.S. motorist Rodney King after he had been beaten by police in Los Angeles: Why can’t we all just get along? Nonviolently.

The answer turns out to be more complex than one might think. Moreover, a series of decision-making techniques known as game theory helps illuminate both the problems — including the problem of violence versus nonviolence — and some strategies for solving them.

Game theory, in brief, is a way of looking at situations involving, in the simplest case, two sides (or “players”), with “payoffs” or “outcomes” determined not merely by what a given player does, but by the interaction of both sides involved. Without this interaction component, such “games” wouldn’t be very difficult: Each player would simply do whatever it takes to get the best outcome for himself or herself, regardless of the other player. For example, if it is raining, the correct “move” may be to carry an umbrella, regardless of what the other does. The weather is unlikely to be influenced by anyone’s behavior; each is therefore free to follow his or her inclinations, without regard to the other’s course of action.

On the other hand, imagine that two people discover, say, a small pile of money. They will likely be best served by taking the other into account: for example, dividing the loot rather than each trying to monopolize the payoff and possibly fighting over it as a result. It is when payoffs are determined not just by what individual A does, but also by what B does simultaneously, that game theory is called for.

Unfortunately, however, such decisions are often less straightforward than merely splitting the difference, and, worse yet, they frequently provide occasions for noncooperation, especially when cooperation by one player renders him vulnerable to being exploited by the other. Such situations, of course, are often encountered by individuals and social groups seeking to prevent conflict and avoid violence.

In short, there is an ever-present risk that, by choosing cooperation over competition, nonviolent practitioners risk losing out to those who are more aggressive and violence prone. Imagine, for example, that in the case of two people discovering a pile of money, one elects to pull out a gun and claim the money as his, while the other is committed to nonviolence. The inevitable result would appear to be that the violent participant is rewarded for his behavior (he gets the money), while the nonviolent one is left empty-handed. Or as Machiavelli famously put it, “A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must necessarily come to grief among those who are not good.”

Nonviolent Solutions

But there is hope, as well: Game theory not only helps us understand the problem, but also suggests and supports nonviolent solutions.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma, derived from game theory, is a model for the evolution of cooperation versus competition more generally. Like most models, it is overly simple, but it helps clarify one’s thinking.

Assume that two individuals — or groups, or even states — both have the choice of being either nonviolent or violent. (Theorists generalize these options to “cooperate” versus “defect” or “nice” versus “nasty,” including such international matters as arms races and the imposition of trade barriers.) If both parties choose nonviolence, each receives a reward for doing so: peacefully resolving their dispute or, in the case of found money, obtaining a share without fighting. If both choose violence, each receives a different payoff: the punishment of possible injury. But if one defects and the other cooperates, the violent defector gets what is called the temptation to defect (all the money in this example), and the one who cooperates (who behaves nonviolently while the other chooses violence) receives the sucker’s payoff: no money in this example.

To understand what happens next, imagine yourself inside the head of either player: “The other fellow could either cooperate with me (be nonviolent) or defect. If the former, then my best move is to threaten violence because then I would get the highest payoff of all while he — a sucker — would get nothing. On the other hand, he might choose to defect and threaten violence, in which case my best move — once again — is to do the same, because even though I get the punishment of a possible fight, which admittedly is a poor payoff, at least it’s better than ending up a sucker and losing out altogether.”

The result of this strict logic is that each side is inclined to possibly violent defection, which presents a troubling dilemma indeed because, by doing so, each gets a punishment (in the case of individuals, a fight, or in the case of nations, perhaps a debilitating arms race or trade war) when the best mutual payoff would have been the shared reward for cooperation and nonviolence.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a useful way of modeling this dilemma, thinking that one must be nasty for fear that anyone who is nice is at the mercy of others who persevere in being nasty (recall Machiavelli).

On the other hand, it isn’t the only way of looking at such situations. For example, when it comes to violence and nonviolence, a more appropriate model may well be the so-called game of Chicken, which resembles Prisoner’s Dilemma except that here, punishment is the worst payoff of all: The cost of mutual fighting — or even threatening to fight — exceeds the cost of being a sucker and avoiding conflict altogether. Chicken is a “game” in which two drivers drive toward each other on a collision course, with each seeking to induce the other to swerve. The one who swerves — equivalent to cooperating in Prisoner’s Dilemma — is considered to be a “chicken” (slang for coward), whereas the one who goes straight –- equivalent to defecting in Prisoner’s Dilemma –- wins. The problem, however, is that if each player is determined to defect, and thus to win at the other’s expense, the result is that both lose!

Repeated Rounds

Simplified game theory models also assume that there is only one possible payoff and that any interaction is a one-time affair. But in reality, individuals and groups often interact repeatedly, and they can vary their behavior depending on what happened the previous time. Both sides therefore have a genuine interest in generating a sequence of nonviolent, cooperative interactions because, whether Prisoner’s Dilemma or a game of Chicken, the reward of nonviolent cooperation is always higher than the punishment of mutual violence. Therefore, such outcomes can indeed yield the highest payoff for everyone concerned.

Interestingly, even in isolated, one-time interactions, when a strictly rational calculation suggests that competitive defection is the “logical” response, most people are inclined to attempt cooperation, especially when they understand that the interaction in question will likely be repeated. Continued interactions offer not only the potential downside of repeated punishments for mutual defection (violence), but also the prospect of enjoying continuing rewards from shared cooperation (nonviolence).

Mathematical and computer-based simulations have shown, for example, that a simple strategy of tit-for-tat can generate the highest payoff of all, even in a classic Prisoner’s Dilemma situation. Such a strategy involves initial cooperation, after which each player merely repeats the move employed by the other in the previous round. Thus, cooperation by player A engenders cooperation by player B indefinitely — as a result of which, both obtain the repeated reward of nonviolent cooperation. By the same token, defection by A produces defection by B, thereby protecting B from being suckered more than once and, in the process, discouraging A from defecting in the first place.

Mohandas Gandhi did not condone tit-for-tat retaliation, but he strongly emphasized that satyagraha — his term for active nonviolence — must be distinguished from passive acquiescence or the desire to avoid conflict at any price. He was also quite clear that by their actions, satyagrahis eventually modify the behavior of would-be defectors, that by their example and willingness to accept suffering (to be occasional suckers, in game theory terminology), they can do something that game theorists do not usually consider: change the behavior of the other party by appealing to his or her higher nature.

When a victim responds to violence with yet more violence, he or she is behaving in a manner that is predictable, perhaps even instinctive, which tends to reinforce the aggression of the original attacker and even, in a way, to vindicate the original violence, at least in the attacker’s mind. Since the victim is so violent, presumably he or she deserved it! Moreover, there is a widespread expectation of countervailing power analogous in the social sphere to Newton’s First Law, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Thus, if A hits B and then B hits back, this nearly always encourages A to strike yet again. Gandhi was not fond of the biblical injunction “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” pointing out that if we all behaved that way, soon the whole world would be blind and toothless.

Instead, if B responds with nonviolence, this response not only breaks the chain of anger and hatred (analogous to the Hindu chain of birth and rebirth), but also puts A in an unexpected position. “I seek entirely to blunt the edge of the tyrant’s sword,” wrote Gandhi, “not by putting up against it a sharper-edged weapon, but by disappointing his expectation that I would be offering physical resistance.” Such resistance is neither easy nor likely to be painless, but game theory, as well as the practical experience of Gandhi in South Africa and India and of Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists in the United States, confirms that it can be spectacularly successful.

The ancient Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero, in Letters to His Friends, asked, “What can be done against force, without force?” Students of nonviolence would answer, “plenty.” Moreover, they would question whether anything effective, lasting, or worthwhile can be done against force, with force. After all, as we have seen, mutual recourse to violence readily leads to what game theorists identify as the punishment of mutual defection, to the detriment of all. American civil rights leader King, who, like Gandhi, was also intensely practical and result oriented, wrote that “returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

In summary, game theory helps illuminate the limits to cooperation, revealing why “getting along” isn’t as simple — or even as natural — as many would wish. But at the same time, it shows that human beings aren’t necessarily doomed to a Hobbesian world of endless, punishing defection and painful competition if they can be persuaded to take a wider view of their situation and, thus, their opportunities.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. government.

David P. Barash is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington and co-author of Peace and Conflict Studies, among many other books.

This article appears in the March 2009 issue of eJournal USA, Nonviolent Paths to Social Change (PDF, 783 KB).

LinK :
Comment by viduur on April 10, 2009 at 16:44
Incidentally I came across the following discussion on the same theme today, when searching thru Google.

Gandhigiri and Game Theory

Buzz up! ShareThisSep 19 2006 | Views 2061 | Comments (28)

My own support for Gandhian methods comes from a realization of its efficacy -- rather than merely from an argument of moral superiority.

Someone recently commented on national TV that Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King succeeded -- despite their non-violent methods -- only because the adversaries were "liberals"! He asserted that the regimes in UK and US are intrinsically liberal -- and that Germany, Portugal or Spain would have crushed the satyagrahis using ruthless force.

I would say that the attitude of a regime -- whether in UK, US, Germany, Iran, Israel (or where ever) -- is not an unchanging constant!

The UK was not too liberal -- at Jhalianwala Bagh.

The US was not at all so while "sorting out" Saddam; nor so in supporting Israel during the recent Lebanese war that sought to punish civilians for supporting Hezbollah. And not at all so when President Truman ordered the dropping of nuclear bombs over civilian (militarily insignificant) cities -- after the war was won.

The point is that the attitude (or strategy) of the adversary AFFECTS the attitude of each side in a conflict. This is exactly what Game Theory 1 tells us!

Even Hitler had to paint the Jews as demons -- before commissioning those infamous gas chambers. Gandhi had to be portrayed as a sort of evil and dangerous man -- before Godse could get to whip up enough hate -- and then to shoot him.

That being so, I would definitely feel that for ANY regime (or adversary), it is far more difficult to be ruthless and violent against an adversary like Gandhi -- than one like Saddam. Not impossible (as Godse convincingly demonstrated), but definitely tougher.

And in any asymmetrical conflict, it is mostly the militarily stronger regime that exercises the option to respond violently to those like Gandhi; it is often then that the resistance morphs into a protracted armed struggle; and later on to guerilla warfare....

We ought to know by now that highly motivated guerilla armies (with strong community support) CANNOT be defeated by superior force or ruthlessness. Such wars usually gets into a vicious cycle (or an "arms race") that can ultimately be broken only through negotiations -- and a settlement that addresses the legitimate concerns of both sides.

I think it is a great quality that we humans possess -- of not submitting to superior force; nor indeed surrendering meekly to blackmail by violent terrorists. Despite heavy personal costs and suffering. This is what Gandhi exemplified ....


1. Elaboration on Game Theory

Game Theory suggests that there is no single "cast-in-plaster" strategy (of dealing with one's adversary) that is guaranteed to win. What is possible for each side is to adopt the strategy that would maximise the probability of winning.

But it always happens that the opposite side may respond sub-optimally. Such irrational responses by the opponent calls for an on-the-fly revision of strategic mode by the other side.

Pure (or always) "cooperative" strategies are found to be not stable -- for this will get exploited by the other side for quick and easy gains. This is referred to as "sucker's payoff".

Similarly, pure (or always) "nasty" strategies too are found to be unstable -- this may well result in an "arms race" situation that reduces the chance of either side to win. And causes the conflict to spiral out of control -- increasing the costs to both sides...

The strategy that seems more effective is one that is largely "cooperative", but would respond swiftly, surely and appropriately to nastiness by the other side. To avoid the trap of an "arms race", the winning strategy should revert to the general "cooperative" mode after each surgical "tit for tat" response to specific nasty moves by the other side.

Links for further reading:-

a) Game Theory

b) What is Game Theory?

Anand Nair

Tags: Gandhi Game Theory Satyagraha Non-violence anti-terror counter-insurgency Martin Luther King Jr Guerilla Warfare Israel Palestine Conflict resolution
The recently released movie, Lage Raho Munnabhai has revived discussions about Gandhi and his methods.

Comment by viduur on April 10, 2009 at 13:02
Obama's economic dilemma: Spend or save?

US President Barack Obama needs to convince Americans to spend now and save later in order to get the US economy back on solid footing. With consumers fearful of losing their jobs and retirement nest eggs, this is no small task at home or abroad. And even if he is successful the end result is likely to be slower economic growth than what the world enjoyed before the financial crisis unleashed a global recession.

It involves changing not only the way US consumers think about spending and saving, but also how the rest of the world views the world's biggest consumer market. Economists have warned for years that the world economy was overly reliant on American consumption, which contributed to what they refer to as global imbalances - unsustainably large deficits in the United States and surpluses in export-heavy countries such as China.

Americans Were "Living in a Fool's Paradise" That's Gone Forever, Soros Says

Posted Apr 09, 2009 09:24am EDT by Aaron Task in Newsmakers, Recession

If nothing else, the credit crisis of the past 18 months has debunked the notion of financial market being an all-knowing, self-correcting mechanism that perfectly allocates capital. Even Alan Greenspan admitted as much.
As a result of the bursting of that theoretical bubble, Americans' lives have been inexorably changed and "there's no way to go back to where we came from," says George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management.

Americans were "living in a fool's paradise" based on the "false promise" of the "market magic," and the idea debt-fueled consumption was a sustainable and legitimate economic policy, the billionaire speculator says.

Soros delves into what this means for the future in his latest book The Crash of 2008 and What It Means and in the accompanying video, the latest installment from my extensive interview with the famed financier.

There is no denying that there is a truth in what Obama is saying OR many other leading Americans like Soros, Warren Buffet etc are saying. But none of them has indicated the root cause, which has created the current crisis and can cause even more serious crisis for America as well as for the whole Globe. Solution may lie in de-Americanising the America thru Gandhian Phil. But a debate has not started in finding out a permanent solution yet.

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