Pluralism of pluralisms [Post 20]

Rationality, strategy and information

The previous post introduced some assumed characteristics all agents related to sovereignty and cosmopolitanism may have. In that sense, players in a territorial dispute, despite their own specific properties as hosts, participants, attendees and viewers, are assumed to be rational, have strategies and information.


For models that apply ideal theory, like the ones used in game theory and board games, it is assumed the individuals who are part of different communities, regardless of their particular characteristics, del are free and rational beings.[1] It follows from this assumption that each and every individual has free will “[…] that is has also the idea of freedom and acts entirely under this idea.”[2] In other words, in order to have an individual morally and legally speaking acting in any of these spheres it is a necessary condition that he is a rational being with understanding of his actions and omissions and his will is free from any external constriction. Moreover, they are reasonable beings in the sense that they “[…] understand they are to honor [the principles they choose], even at the expense of their own interests as circumstances may require, provided others likewise may be expected to honor them.”[3]

Although theoretical attractive, such a view would have limited applicability in real case scenarios if it does not acknowledge its limitations. Firstly, the “rationality” of actual human beings differs based on several issues such as age and access to resources and information. On other words, the individual in question may have particular characteristics determined, for example, by his genetics as well as by the environment (by environment, things like as wide as climate, geographical location and socio-economic and legal influences should be taken into account). Moreover, the particular characteristics of an individual do not necessarily represent the characteristics of other agents such as other peers, their community and the state they are part of.

A further clarification is in relation to the way agents interact with each other whether the interaction is between individuals, individuals and their or other communities, communities between themselves and states. For example, it may be assumed that individuals may be good intrinsically so they may want to help each other or they may be bad intrinsically so their decisions will be purely self-centered or, even, that they are mutually disinterested.[4] Therefore, they intend to accomplish their individual aims but without interfering with those of others. As per the previous point, this is particularly important in sovereignty disputes because these are often highly emotional, with the participants taking the view that “victory for us is to see you suffer.”[5]

It is important to note that to understand sovereignty and cosmopolitanism through the lenses of ideal approaches such as game theory is not in question. In fact, it may be a helpful tool to build common theoretical platform for analysis of similar issues accord different disciplines. However, to limit the analysis to purely theoretical elements and assumptions is to narrow our understanding about these issues and, consequently, the result will be of finite value.

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Rationality, strategy and information (cont.)

Author of:

Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020).

Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017).

Friday 14th May 2021

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World

[1] John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Revised Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 10.

[2] T. Meyer Greene, ed., Selections of Immanuel Kant (London: Charles Scribner’s Sons Ltd., 1929), 335.

[3] John Rawls, Justice as Fairness, A Restatement (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2003), 7.

[4] John Rawls, Justice as Fairness, A Restatement (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2003), 12 and 131.

[5] Philip C. Winslow, Victory for Us is To See You Suffer: in the West Bank with the Palestinians and the Israelis (Beacon Press: 2007).

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