Monday Morning Book Contest (update)

Do you more about international relations than an intro student at Dartmouth? Prove it! Here are a few questions from a recent midterm I gave my students. The first commenter to get all of these right will win a paperback copy of my book, Secessionism.

1. What usually happens to public support for a war in the U.S. over time?

2. In general, why do civil wars tend to last longer than interstate wars?

3. What two general solutions have scholars discovered for collaboration problems (the Prisoner’s Dilemma)?

4. Give an example, general or specific, of an international issue that the “Battle of the Sexes” game can model well.

5. In any bargaining situation, which side has the greater power?

6. Suppose there are two or more theories that appear to explain equally well a phenomenon of interest, such as the democratic peace or a decline in the rate of violent death over time. How can you determine which of the theories is actually the best explanation?

UPDATE: Just to be clear, you may try more than once if you get one wrong the first time. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Monday Morning Book Contest (update)

  1. 1. Support decays but remains positive.

    2. Civil wars parties are typically not fighting over territory encroachments, resources, etc. Instead, they fight over more basic ideological, cultural, religious, or national issues, for which the parties are less willing to compromise their respective positions. A party, typically a state actor, may have commitment problems with any negotiated agreement due to existing or prospective economic expectations. Both parties may be able to derive significant funding or resources, due to backers, outside economic interests, which may prolong conflict. Additional, civil war parties are more likely to be insulated from international pressures.

    3. The GS for the prisoner’s dilemma is for parties to mutually cooperate or to mutually defect, and the preference for one over the other depends on specific expectations.

    4. Any issue where communication or coordination is difficult and noncooperation could lead to a less desirable outcome, even if cooperation may not lead to the strictly highest outcome for an individual player. For example: international trade agreements, conservation of international common resources.

    5. With basic assumptions, the party with greater bargaining power is the party whose expectations of a negotiated agreement are closest to its best alternative to a negotiated agreement.

    6. The question is a little broad since they perform “equally well”. If one means numerically, one must be able to quantify the otherwise qualitative independent and dependent data that the theories explain. From there, statistical analysis is your friend. Or, in a more casual sense, one should search for the counterexamples of each theory. But, if indeed they explain the phenomenon equally well, both theories may have validity and explanatory power.

    1. 1. Correct
      2. Correct
      3. Not what I’m looking for – in context of the class, what I’m looking for here is two general methods of ensuring that both parties will cooperate.
      4. Partial credit. Could be clearer.
      5. I’ll allow it. Correct.
      6. Incorrect – I’m assuming here both theories really do explain one particular phenomenon equally well, no matter what tests you use.

      1. 3. Harumph. The two “general solutions” of the Prisoner’s Dilemma are well known to scholars. One can never ensure that both parties will cooperate. Only increase the likelihood. I suppose in gross terms, the big two methods are rewarding voluntary cooperation and sanctioning noncooperation. These compliance strategies can be implemented in a variety of ways, such as the establishment and enforcement of participant norms.

        4. Every darned convention on international sea and air navigation. International adoption of ICANN’s domain name system.

        6. If they explain it “equally well”, you have a problem. To imply “best explanation”, implies some metric for choosing–yet the models appear equal, save for some mystery factor not stated. As a general rule one should select the most parsimonious theory–but there’s no guarantee it will be the “best explanation”. (Especially in social sciences where systems can be complex.) The missing factor there being a preference for reductionism.

      2. 3. Sort of – but vague. Partial credit. Psst: see what FreeDem wrote.

        4. Correct. International standards-setting in general.

        6. I’ll accept parsimony, although it’s not really what I’m looking for.

        Anyway, assuming you could copy FreeDem’s answer on #3, it looks as if you’re the winner of the book. Drop me a line w/ your mailing address. 😉

        Here’s the answer I’m looking for on #6: If multiple theories explain the same phenomenon equally well, you have to develop additional empirical implications (hypotheses) of those theories, and then test those implications. Ex.: Different theories of the democratic peace explain democratic peace equally well, but they imply different things about democracies’ resolve and credibility during crisis bargaining, for instance.

  2. 1. Public support declines over time following an initial spike.

    2. Civil wars are competitions over claims to sovereignty, and as such victory is conceived by both sides as total control, while many interstate wars can achieve victory without absolute destruction of the other side

    3. Simply running the scenario over and over again for actors to identify trusted actors and build a rapport. Alternatively, third party enforcers or some other binding mechanism to enables defectors to be punished.

    4. Brinksmanship between the United States and China over Taiwan. Potentially the lead-up to the Iraq War depending on which version of events regarding inspectors and Saddam you believe. International trade regimes without binding agreements like the WTO.

    5. First movers?

    6. Which ever one the primary donor to my nonprofit or think tank favors. 😉

    1. 1. Correct
      2. Partial credit – why do both sides fight it out to the end?
      3. Correct.
      4. Incorrect. Brinksmanship occurs in the context of a zero-sum game. International trade bargaining looks more like a Prisoner’s Dilemma (positive sum). Battle of the Sexes is also positive-sum.
      5. Incorrect.
      6. LOL

  3. I don’t know anything about the “Battle of the Sexes Game” and I think you need to grammar-check your posts; your students’ tendency toward dangling modifiers must be infections.

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