Thursday 27 April 2017

Contra Dube & Harish, Queens are less good at both belligerence and baby-making than Kings.

Recently there have been a number of click-bait articles- and now even a Daily Mail piece- based on a Junk Social Science drive by regression utilizing weak and invalid instruments, claiming that Queens are more belligerent than Kings.

The conventional view was that Kings made War while Queens made babies.

In this post I will show that, for Europe between 1480- 1914

1) Kings made more Royal babies than Queens
2) Kings were more belligerent than Queens.

In other words, women were inferior both at making babies and making War.

Louis XIV said 'A King can only make a baby of the Royal Blood with the Queen'. According to this view, Kings can't make more Royal babies than Queens.

However, before his death, he himself raised 2 of his bastards into the Royal line of Succession. Charles XIII of Sweden went one step further. Without aid from any woman, at the advanced age of 60 he become the proud father of, first, a fat Danish Prince who promptly had a stroke and died, and then a French soldier of about 50 years of age. All this was done without the assistance of any women whatsoever. This shows that Kings made more Royal Babies than Queens over the period in question.  By contrast, Queens were vaginally constrained in this matter and, speaking generally, weren't able to legitimise bastards absent a complaisant Royal husband.
Thus, the stereotype of females as being necessary for making babies is shown to be mere Feminist propaganda, at least as far as European Royalty was concerned.

Secondly, Kings were more belligerent than Queens because only Kings have created their own Kingdoms and, almost invariably, have done so by purely military means. Napoleon created a lot of Kingdoms for his family and comrades in arms and about 4 million people died as a result. No woman has achieved anything remotely similar.

Sometimes a daughter or wife of a King proved more able than any man and managed to preserve the dynasty and expand its territories. However, such instances were rare and heralded no great change in the status of women. In other cases, where a woman was the sole legitimate heir, she might- if she survived the hazards of serial child-birth- enjoy greater longevity than a man would have done and this might correlate to what appears to be a more intensive involvement in belligerence. However, in this case, it is longevity, not any attitudinal or gender specific trait, which generates the result by means of an impact on the building up of State capacity- in particular, the ability to maintain long term alliances and honour treaty obligations.

Acharya & Lee have a paper arguing that, in medieval Europe, Kingdoms which had plenty of male heirs did better than those where such heirs were lacking and this had persistent hysteresis effects down to our own day.  One way to ensure plentiful male heirs is to increase gender dimorphism such that Queens concentrate on making babies and Social Conventions evolve such that Royal kids and women are immune from massacre. If male siblings co-operate, an even better outcome is feasible. Primogeniture with Religious sanction can help. Ottoman Turkey was weakened by the custom of killing or imprisoning the brothers of the Sultan on the legal principle of 'maslaha' (Public interest) because of Religious abhorrence of 'fitna' (Disorder) . By contrast, in Christian Europe, it was more commonly the case that the younger brothers of the Monarch were more Royalist than the King- and this sometimes created problems if they acceded to the throne.

Kingship can be sacerdotal in origin, but more commonly it arises out of military success`. War, proverbially, was the sport of Kings. Princes habitually dressed in military costume and, in extremis, took command of armies and hazarded all upon the outcome of battle. Queens, on the other hand, more especially under conditions of monogamy and primogeniture, were baby making machines. Their political value was a function of fertility not military prowess.

Sociobiology explains that male conquerors can have hundreds of babies and literally millions of descendants. Women- even Queens- can manage little more than a dozen kids. The pay-off, in terms of reproductive success, from conquest is far greater for the one than the other. Thus belligerence is a Kingly, not Queenly trait. On the other hand, being less tempted by conquest or the chance to hazard an existing domain in the hope of securing one more valuable, Queens may be more inclined to play the 'bourgeois strategy' and, it may be, this fact explains why females inherit in the absence of male siblings in some places and at some times but not others.

In the case of Europe, between 1500 and 1870- after which no Christian Queen truly ruled rather than reigned- two idiosyncratic factors are salient. Firstly, that the Balance of Power could be disrupted by dynastic marriages- as late as 1870 the Chancelleries of Europe worried over which Prince was marrying the Spanish Infanta, though, with hindsight, the whole thing was a chimera.

Royal Marriages were strategically important because of a peculiarity of Western Christendom- viz. insistence on monogamy and difficulties related to divorce in the event of the lack of a male heir (in the Eastern Church, divorce was permitted). This peculiarity was tied up to the role of the Church (which claimed to be the bride of Christ and thus insisted on monogamy without divorce) in legitimising secular power. After the Church split up, dynastic questions still had salience because of the Augsburg rule 'Cuius regio, eius religio  linking the religion of the monarch to that of the State. Ultimately, Nations asserted their right to chose monarchs of their liking and to constrain the monarch's actions.  However, this was an imperfect and sometimes dysfunctional process- more particularly in multi-ethnic polities or traditionally despotic ones like Tzarist Russia. Thus the great conflagration of 1914 had all the appearances of a struggle between crowned cousins though what was really of salience was ethnic cleansing and class warfare.
Ultimately, it became clear that Europeans couldn't be trusted to run their own continent and, in 1945, peace was restored by 2 new Guardians- one American, who still endures, the other predominantly but, alas!, not Asiatic enough, which consequently has fallen by the wayside.

A question we might ask is why some European polities, from the Fifteenth Century onward, adhered to the Salic Law- where no female could inherit the throne- while others did not. Before we do so, it would be well to point out that the Church's tables of consanguinity prevented an easy way to get round the Salic Law- viz. marry the female heir to the agnatic successor. However, the Church could be flexible. Thus, for example, the Pope was prepared to allow Henry VIII's bastard to marry his half-sister, Bloody Mary, and come to the throne that way.  Later on, the first undisputed Queen regnant of Portugal, Maria the Mad, who came to the throne in 1777, was married to her Dad's younger brother. Bu then the Church's ability to secure a rent by being flexible in this matter had declined in the same manner as its power to release vassals from their oath of obedience had previously disappeared.

Western Europe was peculiar in that Church and Crown had separate origins, legal codes, and motivating interests. Nevertheless, for a mobile 'warrior class', there was an advantage in something approaching 'matrilocality', mediated by a sacerdotal cadre. Here, the wives and daughters remain on the demense and extract resources from it with the assistance of the Clergy.  A mutuality of interest developed whereby the Church, which inherited disproportionately from women, had an interest in legitimising non agnatic inheritance.

The development of 'Civil Society' meant that a third branch of Law gained salience. This was linked to Parliament exercising a fiscal function conditional upon an increasing legislative role.

The Hapsburg 'pragmatic sanction' presents an interesting case where the last male heir disinherited his nieces in favour of his possible daughters. It is noteworthy that this succeeded because 'National' parliaments found it in their interest to affirm this departure from the dead hand of Salic Law. This marked the loss of salience of the 'Universal' Church and the growing importance of 'Nations'- as defined by Parliaments. Similarly, in 1717, the French parliament reversed the Sun King's edict raising two of his bastards into the line of succession of the French Crown- which would have had the effect of extinguishing what later became the Orleanist claim. The argument then made stressed the right of the French to choose their own King- thus anticipating the language of 1789.

Economic theory explains why 'transferable utility' is necessary so as to permit effective collective decision making under circumstances where authority is plural. Money is 'transferable utility'. So are women dowered with land. Indeed, assuming kin-selective altruism, and son preference for high status men and daughter preference for lower status men who can buy a high status husband, the course of Western European Social History is in line with what Economic theory would predict.

What Economic theory does not predict, because it is impossible, is that Queens will be more belligerent than Kings.

Yet, 2 American Professors- Dube & Harish- make this foolish claim in a much cited paper. 
The abstract reads-
'Are states led by women less prone to conflict than states led by men? We answer this question by examining the effect of female rule on war among European polities over the 15th-20th centuries. We utilize gender of the first born and presence of a female sibling among previous monarchs as instruments for queenly rule. We find that polities led by queens were more likely to engage in war than polities led by kings. Moreover, the tendency of queens to engage as aggressors varied by marital status. Among unmarried monarchs, queens were more likely to be attacked than kings. Among married monarchs, queens were more likely to participate as attackers than kings, and, more likely to fight alongside allies. These results are consistent with an account in which marriages strengthened queenly reigns because married queens were more likely to secure alliances and enlist their spouses to help them rule. Married kings, in contrast, were less inclined to utilize a similar division of labor. These asymmetries, which reflected prevailing gender norms, ultimately enabled queens to pursue more aggressive war policies.'

How do Dube & Harish achieve this result? Well, they exclude those parts of Europe which had few 'natural frontiers' or barriers against invasion and featured overlapping territorial claims- viz. France, Germany, the Balkans and so on- because, since bellicosity was geopolitically required, they had strict laws against female rulers or inheritance through the females, though, in the case of Poland (which Dube & Harish list as a 'non Queen polity') there actually was a Queen Regnant from 1575 to 1586.

Instead, Dube & Harish concentrate on peripheral parts of the continent, the Iberian peninsula, Britain, Sweden, Naples etc. This means their work is ab ovo worthless because it is not comparing like with like.
Moreover, their list of 'non Queen polities' is historically inaccurate-

Bourbonnais was Salic- except for a brief period of less than 20 years when Suzanne, the daughter of Anne of France, ruled the Duchy. After her death, the mother of the French King offered to marry her widower so as to get her hands on the Duchy. He refused on the grounds of her advanced age. Her son promptly stripped him of his titles and possessions. So much for Bourbonnais being a 'Queen Polity'.
But then Dube & Harish aren't sticklers for the truth. If Bourbonnais, a Duchy, which had Duchesses not Queens can count in their map why not Polities which did actually have Queen regnants?
Poland most definitely had a Queen- Anna the last of the Jagiellons- but it is coloured as non-Queen polity.
Maria Theresa became 'King' of Hungary and Croatia, and, by conquest, Queen of Bohemia. But still all these vast lands are coloured as 'non Queen polities'. She made her husband a co-ruler of these 2 Kingdoms and by a combination of force and bribery had him recognised as Holy Roman Emperor.

Another Austrian princess or superior ability was Maria Carolina of Naples. Once she gave birth to an heir, she was able to get the better of her father-in-law, the King of Spain, and promulgated a relatively progressive reign over which her dunce of a husband nominally presided.

Thus, the truth is, Queens have ruled the roost even in 'Salic' lands. France had Female Regents, like Anne of France- who was able to make Suzanne a Duchess in her own right- Catherine de Medici and Anne of Austria- that last notably less prone to aggression than either her husband or son.

A regnant Queen might not have any actual power if she were mad- like Maria the Mad of Portugal, or was under the thumb of her husband, like England's Mary II, or simple-minded and in thrall to a charismatic courtier, like Queen Anne, or a mere puppet for her maternal Uncles, like Lady Jane Grey, or else because the Crown itself conferred little tangible power, like Queen Anna of Poland, or Queen Victoria of England,  or because a religious or moral scruple militated against it and so some powerful prelate or confessor pulled all the actual strings.
Equally, a Queen by marriage might actually exercise all the functions of a regnant Queen either officially- as Regent, for an absent or incapacitated husband or minor son, nephew, or other heir- or else unofficially by reason of an uxorious husband content to leave power in the hands of a 'petticoat government'.
One unusual case is Empress Catherine of Russia- a servant girl of chequered past whom Peter the Great elevated to co-ruler status. After his death, she was able to rule on her own for a couple of years, with the support of the 'new men', before dying of natural causes. Her daughter, Elizabeth was able to usurp the throne some years later and, as such. can be considered the only woman to have gained the Crown entirely by her own initiative. The case of Catherine the Great is more complicated. She hated her husband but, as a foreigner, probably could not have pulled off a coup by herself. It is a matter of conjecture as to whether these Tzarinas were more or less bellicose than would have been the case if a Tzar had held the throne. Catherine's son and heir certainly wrote critically of an expansionist policy and initially suited his actions to his words after his succession; her husband too might plausibly be presented as a 'peacenik'. On the other hand, Peter III, like Paul I, had a fascination with the drill-ground and his odd views, extra-territorial interests, and propensity to hero-worship were such as were likely to involve expensive and quixotic campaigns abroad. Few doubt, on the other hand that Catherine had superior administrative skills, a more balanced character and sufficient diplomatic finesse to be an effectual international mediator.

Had Dube & Harish been serious about wishing to measure the effect of a Queen running things on the incidence of warfare they might start by picking the set of Queens (Q) considered by Historians to have had actually held power and then looking to see if there was any increase or decrease in incidence of Warfare (W) against the trend rate. The problem here is that we might want to distinguish between the effect of a King not wielding power and a Queen doing so. Suppose, in the absence or incapacity of a King, the norm is for a Regency Council to run things and that Queens in this case exercise no power even if they are regnant, then, it may be, there is one effect on W (War incidence). We need one instrumental variable to capture this effect which is about the increase or decrease in war resulting from not having a King running the show. If males, on average, turn into testosterone fuelled monsters once they get their tushy on a Throne, the 'no King' effect would yield a negative correlation with W.

Now suppose there is no Regency Council but, instead, a Queen runs things. We need a second, completely independent, instrumental variable to capture the effect that her gender has on W. Suppose warriors are prejudiced against females. They think a Queen running things is bound to be crap at defending her territory. Then, the 'Queen effect' would yield a positive correlation with W relating to more defensive wars.

 Taken together, these two instruments would ideally pick out every casus belli in W which directly relates to the Queen's gender. Since not all Queens or Kings are alike, what we are looking for is the average effect of having a Queen run things. The problem here is that if people have rational expectations, or, at the least, they learn from experience, then, very quickly- if we would find after running the best possible Econometric investigation that there is a zero Queen effect on W- there will in fact be a zero Queen effect on W because everybody will anticipate this outcome. However, because expectations are so important, the Q series couldn't have been independent of the W series and vice versa. What is happening here is rubbish Econometrics.

To their credit, Dube & Harish aren't even trying not to do rubbish Econometrics as opposed to click-bait Junk Social Science.

They choose the following 2 instruments
1) 'we utilize whether the first-born legitimate child of the previous monarch(s) was male as one of our instruments for whether a queen holds power.'
Consulting the table of instruments used by Dube & Harish we come in for a surprise. Empress Elizabeth of Russia is excluded from the list of Monarchs, though she usurped the throne, but is included as an instrument for Catherine the Great! Why? There was no blood relationship between them. Catherine threw her hubby in prison and took the throne. Why is she shown, by this instrument, to come to the throne as if she were a niece of Elizabeth?
It appears Dube & Harish inhabit an alternative Reality with its own History
Mary II of England is unusual in that her father was alive when her husband usurped the throne in their joint names. The reason he did so was because her father had just had a son. In other words, this is a case where a woman becomes Queen because her father has a son.
Pretty complicated right? How do Dube & Harish deal with her case? This is the table they give in the appendix-
I'm baffled. Where is Mary II? We can see her husband inheriting sole rule at her death. But what about her? Why treat her case as if it was routine? Moreover, by the Bill of Rights, the throne would have gone, not to Anne but to Anne's son had either William or Mary lived into his majority. In the event he died before William.  None of this explains why Mary features as 'instrument ruler 1 for her sister Anne. The truth is, had the 'Old Pretender' converted to the Protestant faith, he would have inherited from his aunt.
Dube & Harish supply this explanation
This makes things as clear as mud. I suspect there is some fraud at the bottom of it.

Consider the following snippet from their table of instruments regarding the Duchy of Lorraine-
Henry II tried to give the Duchy to his daughter who married the son of a guy who pressed his superior Salic right and got the Dukedom before consigning it to his son who hated poor Nicola and abandoned her and married again in defiance of the Church. He was chased out of his Duchy which he gave to his younger brother who gave it back after being chased out by the French within a few months. Charles V was the son of this brother. He was Duke in name only.   However, in Dube & Harish's fantasy world, Nicola is an instrument for his succession to a non-existent throne.  Charles IV did get restored for a few years  before being chased out again. By the time of his death, he had legitimated his own children. They would have got the Dukedom if it was worth getting. It wasn't. Charles V's loyal military service to the Austrians did however get his son the Duchy later on. This son had a son who gave up Lorraine to marry Maria Theresa.

I don't know if this playing fast and loose with instrumental variables is the result of fraud or just ignorance on the part of the authors. In either case, it invalidates their result.

A good instrument is one which correlates well with the explanatory variable (in this case, Q) but which is exogenous, i.e. independent, in respect to the 'error' term (i.e. explains nothing with respect to W).
Dube & Harish's instrument does not correlate with Q at all. It is far too weak. What matters under male preference (semi Salic) primogeniture is that no surviving male sibling exist for a Female to gain the throne in her own right. Gender of the first born is irrelevant.

In any case, 'First born legitimate child' is not well defined because Kings had the option to decide that an illegitimate child, regardless of birth order, was in fact legitimate and a legitimate child was in fact illegitimate. Henry VIII decided at one time that Henry Fitzroy was legitimate and that Mary was not because his marriage to her mother was invalid.
However this decision of Henry's had a hysteresis effect on W. So there is at least one case which shows that, methodologically speaking, this instrument must be discarded. Moreover, Kings who were not the 'first born legitimate male heir' have often fared badly. England's Charles I, James II; France's Charles X- there are numerous instances where the younger son is more Royalist than the King and his stiff necked ways bring down the dynasty.

Dube & Harish, however, are innocent of any notion of European history. More remarkably, they are also unfamiliar with any human society which has ever existed. They write-  'The lack of a first born male could spur war if it signals uncertainty in succession. Other monarchs may choose to attack the polity if they see that the first birth did not yield a male heir. If so, queens would inherit polities that are already participating in more wars, which would present an alternative path through which the instrument affects war participation.'  Wow! A King is either weak enough to be attacked now or he isn't. Typically, a King gets married in his twenties and starts having babies. If his first born isn't male, the fact will be known by his Thirties. Will anyone in their right mind attack a King when he is at his peak as a military commander? Suppose someone is foolish enough to moot the idea. He will get no support. Why? Because the fact that the first born is a girl does not mean all subsequent kids will be girls. What if the King has one daughter and is known not to be able have any more children? Does this create a problem? No. If the Kingdom follows Salic law, the Heir presumptive is easily identifiable. Sometimes this Heir will be married off to the daughter regardless of the tables of consanguinity. Alternatively, if the Kingdom is semi-Salic, the daughter can be married to a Prince of proven martial or diplomatic worth. In no case does the fact that a man's first child is female raise any suspicion in anybody's minds that he will never father a son.

 Dube & Harish may not know this but ordinary people do. By contrast, infertility of the monarch- by reason of constitution or lifestyle- could lead to predatory behaviour by foreign powers. Schleswig-Holstein followed Salic Law whereas Denmark was 'semi-Salic'.  When it became clear that the King could not father an heir, the Danes chose a Crown Prince who had a plausible claim to the Duchies so as to preserve the Personal Union. Previously, the legitimate heir to the Duchies had been bought off and had transferred his claim to the Danish Crown. However, his son revived it and, propelled by German Nationalism, and Prussia's desire to build the Kiel Canal through Duchy of Holstein territory, a War was fought on this issue.

This is a clear case where the childlessness of a King resulted in a predatory war. Thus, the infertility of a Monarch can be correlated with W. On Dube & Harish's account, 'First born is female, which we have seen is not correlated with Q, ' is in fact correlated with W. But, in that case, it is an invalid instrument because it is endogenous.

What about the notion that a country will be attacked the moment a Queen is put on the throne? Since War is costly, nobody in their right mind would put a Queen on the throne under these circumstances. If the stakeholders in the polity are not in their right mind, or if they hope to personally profit from a general catastrophe, then the polity will succumb to Darwinian forces. It will be eliminated. In this case, it was some problem in the polity, not the gender of the monarch, which is the causative factor.

Where few natural or ethno-cultural barriers to invasion exist, something like a Salian law or an elective Monarchy would be adaptive for the polity and we do find that Salic parts of Europe had this feature.

Dube & Harish aren't testing for what they say they are testing for. They are testing the proposition 'European polities between 1480-1918 lacked rational expectations and made crazy assumptions like thinking if a King's first baby was a girl this meant all his kids would be girls and so he should be attacked immediately.' Naturally they find that the proposition is false because it is one only they were stupid enough to suggest.

2) The other instrument used by Dube & Harish has to do whether the previous monarch had a sister. Typically, they show Lady Jane Grey as Elizabeth's sister though there was no relationship between them.  Elizabeth was Mary's sister but Mary has been put in as the first instrument as though she were actually her father. God alone knows if this is stupidity or fraud.

Consider the following explanation- 'Of course if the previous monarchs did not have any children, or the children died by the time of accession, or were too young to rule at the time of accession, then the throne could pass to a sibling of the monarch instead. If the previous monarchs had a sister then the throne could pass to her, as she would be given priority over more distantly related males. For example, Ulrika Eleanora became ruler of Sweden in 1718. She was preceded by her brother Charles XII, who never married or had children. In addition, all of their brothers had died by the time Charles’ reign drew to an end, leaving Ulrika as the heir. Since having a sister enhanced the chance of having a female accede, we also use whether the previous monarchs had a sister as a second instrument for having a queen in power.'
Dube & Harish are telling porkies. Ulrika was not the heir. Her elder sister's son,  Charles Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp, was the heir. Ulrika curried favour with the Swedish Parliament, with whom she had enjoyed good relations as Regent, by ending absolute monarchy and making the Crown elective. The reason she cheated her nephew out of his rights was because she was madly in love with her husband in whose favour she abdicated within a couple of years. She did not rule anything. She was a girl in love. Her brother- the famous Charles XII- loved fighting. She did not. Her husband was tolerated because he was weak and uninterested in politics. Sweden ceased to be a 'big power' in military terms thereafter. Her husband, an adulterer, had no power, though he transferred resources from his own patrimony to his new 'Kingdom.  Later the Swedes blundered into a War with Russia which they lost. Empress Elizabeth insisted that Ulrika's nephew's line be reinstated as her husband's successors- the poor chump had impoverished his patrimony in vain.

So much for Dube & Harish's second instrument. It clearly does not predict that a Queen will hold power because in the one instance they supply, the opposite happened. Ulrika lost power. The Crown lost power. There is no 'regnant Queen' here at all.

This is not Dube & Harish's view. They say 'However, the OLS estimates in Table 3 may be downward biased — for example, if the elite allowed queens to come to power more during times of stability, or prevented them from coming to power during times of war. In fact, even some reigning queens articulated the view that women should not govern if they had to lead armies into battle. This was the position of Ulrika Eleanora who asked that the Swedish Riksdag that her husband Frederick be made co-regent'. As we have seen, Ulrika was appointed Regent by her brother, an absolute monarch, who was away fighting. The Riksdag had no power to appoint anyone a co-Regent. After her brother's death, Ulrika claimed the Crown, to which she was elected after she ended Absolute Monarchy and inaugurated the 'Age of Liberty'. Since Swedish Law did not permit two people to rule, she abdicated in favour of her husband not because she was so stupid and ignorant as to think a Ruler had to 'lead armies into battle' but because she was in love.

Dube & Harish aren't historians. But they do have access to Wikipedia. This paper of theirs has been circulating since 2015. Why are they so careless and stupid? There is scarcely a single historical example they cite which does not rebound against their own argument.

They don't understand that Western Europe started off with 'limited monarchies' but moved in an absolutist direction before being pulled back again by Parliaments.

By the  middle of the nineteenth century, Queens generally reigned but did not rule.

They write- ' Prince Albert was Queen Victoria's most trusted advisor, and shaped her colonial policy and public relations image (Urbach 2014). In fact, Victoria was said to be most active as a ruler during Albert's lifetime.' Queen Victoria had no political power. Her Uncle was the last British monarch to appoint a Prime Minister against the will of Parliament. Victoria had no 'Colonial Policy'. Even Disraeli, who liked flattering her coz he was a great big Queen himself, never dreamt of accepting any suggestion of hers- e.g. permitting Indian Princes to enter the House of Lords.

Dube & Harish also mention Queen Dona Maria II of Portugal, a contemporary of Victoria, who was put in by the Liberal faction for the specific purpose of carrying forward a constitutional monarchy of the English type. Her husband, the Catholic son of an Uncle of Victoria's, was equally committed to Liberalism and later refused the Throne of Spain.  Neither was belligerent or autocratic. The dynasty itself ended in 1910 because it didn't really make much difference to anybody. By contrast, Maria the Mad is remembered favourably in Portugal and Brazil despite her horrible shrieking. Like Mad King George, she pursued true 'Raj Dharma'- the true duty of a King- viz. to bring Enlightenment to the Masses the only way Kings, or Professors of Economics, can do so- viz. by screaming incessantly and shitting themselves at all opportune moments.

Dube & Harish believe there is a 'division of labour' such that Queens get their hubbies to do useful work, whereas Kings just keep Queens barefoot and pregnant. Thus, Queens have more resources for war. This is idiotic. States simply do not face the sort of constraint that a middle class household does. If my wife forces me to take a job, sure, my family will be better off. If the Queen insists Prince Phillip get a job, Britain's prospects in War or Peace are not affected at all.

Leaving aside the limited Monarchies of Western Europe, there is only one Christian Monarchy which greatly expanded its domain under female leadership. This was Russia where, uniquely, an unmarried woman seized power and ruled in her own name- not as the regent of an existing or possible son. This was  Empress Elizabeth, who was followed by Catherine the Great, whose hubby was off his chump and no use at all to anybody. Neither fits in with Dube's & Harish's scheme. Indeed, even Empress Anna- who created the precedent of female rule in Russia, came to the throne contrary to the rule of succession, or Dube & Harish's instruments, because she promised to give more power to the Privy Council and was unencumbered with a husband. However, she soon reneged and re-established Absolutism, forcing Prince Golitsyn to marry a Kalmuck maiden in an ice palace while being taunted by dwarfs and zanies.

Another thing Dube & Harish ignore is whether or not a Queen has a son, for whom she can act as regent. Isabella of Castile is an example of a Queen who only became legitimate and could carry forward her policy after she had a son. She had already demonstrated bravery and capacity to lead, but that's not what clinched her prevailing over other possible female heirs.

Dube & Harish write-
Why is this first stage necessary?
The Historical Chronicles clearly state when and for how long Queens held power.
If the fact that a Queen is running the show is correlated with military challenges to the polity, any 'informative' instrument (i.e. one which correctly predicts a Queen will rule) will not be 'valid' (i.e. uncorrelated with military challenges). However, 'conditioning'  can create a Statistical artefact- i.e. can mislead. So there is no point, except to wilfully mislead, in putting in such an instrument.

Dube & Harish's equation is a piece of shit.

Take the case of Elizabeth of Russia-  the only woman to have seized the throne and  to have done so in her own right, without a husband or son. The previous rulers had been her more or less distant cousins.  The equation given by Dube & Harish features an utterly useless 'instrument' in her case. 
True, she was the daughter of Peter the Great, but there had been several Monarchs in between. Elizabeth was a fine diplomat and may have turned out to be a bellicose leader but she fell ill just at the moment when this possibility could fructify. She is unique in that she was never married to any Prince and had no children. She was a truly self-made woman. However, her passion was for extravagant balls, not battles.

 An instrumental variable is only used when the explanatory variable (in this case, whether or not the Ruler was a woman) can itself have an effect on the dependent variable (war-related outcomes in the polity). But the instrument should correlate with the explanatory variable. We can see that for Queen Regents or usurpers like Elizabeth of Russia, Dube & Harish's instrument does not correlate at all. Why use it?

Now it becomes clear.
Dube & Harish are not just being stupid they are betting Professors who read it will be equally stupid.
Professors, at least of Econ, in America are middle class.
They don't understand anything about the European Aristocracy.
There are Zero cases in the period under consideration when ' war in past reigns led children to die young' because we are dealing with Royalty- not peasants. During wars, ordinary people have to do extra jobs to make ends meet. Still their kids may die at a higher rate. This does not happen to Royals. A Queen does not need to get her hubby to take a job so the country will be better managed. A King does not lose a lot of his little kiddies coz they starve to death or get raped or bayoneted by enemy soldiers.

What Dube & Harish have written is nonsense on stilts but it looks like 'Econometrics'.
A far better approach would be to choose the following two instruments- 
1) The Ruler being widely believed to have a vagina
2) The Ruler being widely believed to lack testicles.
Such 'instruments' correlate with being a Regnant Queen and are exogenous for Statistical purposes since large scale wars are not fought because a Vagina, as opposed to pair of testicles,  reposes upon a particular Throne's cushion.  Dube & Harish's instruments do not meet this criteria because, unless polities are cohesive, there can always be conflict about who was the true first born son, for the purpose of legitimising descent under primogeniture, or deciding which sister should rule.

Their data is rubbish because we don't know the gender of any Royal's first born because it was unlikely to be legitimate- though, it could be rendered so at a later date. In the 15th Century, John the First of Portugal and Ferdinand I of Naples were bastards.  The status of Elizabeth I of England was equivocal. The Duke of Monmouth was at one time expected to be legitimised and, had he not rebelled, he might well have become King after his Uncle James II had exhausted the patience of the Commons.

It is crazy to worry about finding out the gender of who was or wasn't the first born simply so as to have an 'instrument' which looks 'exogenous' because the said instrument is in no way correlated with whether or not a Queen was running things. 
What Dube & Harish are doing here isn't Econometrics, it is play-acting of a particularly stupid and ignorant sort.

These 'controls' are worthless.
What matters is that a polity is cohesive enough to decide issues of legitimate succession itself.
If it does so, it does not matter if a Vagina or a Penis is cushioned by the Throne.
If it doesn't, what matters is the luck & cunning of the incumbent which in turn does not depend on whether they possess a Vagina or Penis.

We know this because, in recent years, Europe has been turning to pure primogeniture precisely because polities are cohesive and War unthinkable. This in turn impacts on fertility. We don't expect to see a preference for a male 'heir & spare' to continue and this means lower expected Royal family size.
In other words, what Dube & Harish are actually testing for has nothing to do with whether Queens are more or less likely to be belligerent. They are testing to see whether they can predict Queenly rule. They can't. Nobody can. But we don't need to. History tells us whether or not a particular country was ruled by a Queen or not. What determined whether a particular Queen was belligerent also determined whether she became Queen in the first place. This has to do with expectations w.r.t her adherents prevailing. Just on this basis, we would expect to see some increased belligerence, ceteris paribus, from regnant Queens. However, we would also expect to see the Queen's adherents taking steps to entrench their own privileges and thus creating or reinforcing 'limited monarchy' which by itself would damp down subsequent monarch dependent belligerence effects. In any case, War- as Clausewitz said- is only the extension of politics by other means. Selecting a King with a good military reputation may be enough, in itself, to secure all the benefits of War without its costs. Thus a humbly born French soldier was chosen to be King of Sweden purely on the basis of his military prowess. He persuaded Norway to continue a personal union under his Crown with Sweden. The House of Bernadotte still rules the latter country. In the event, the founder of the dynasty did not have to fight any battles. His reputation was sufficient.

By contrast with Sweden, the Brits, under long lived Queens like Victoria and Elizabeth II, both of whom reigned but did not rule, ended up invading or otherwise conducting military operations across countries occupying 90 per cent of the Earth's habitable surface. So what? Nothing can be deduced from this about Queenly belligerence just as nothing can be deduced from Mad Queen Maria's sojourn in Brazil. She didn't really endow that vast territory with Liberty. She shrieked loudly and soiled herself.

Dube & Harish write 'Using the first born male and sister instruments, we find that polities ruled by queens were 27% more likely to participate in inter-state conflicts, compared to polities ruled by kings.' They know that their instruments don't pick out Queens who exercised power as Regents, as can be seen from this footnote- 'France did have queen consorts who married reigning kings or queen regents who were essentially acting monarchs on behalf of child heirs who were too young to rule. Note that identifying the effect of queen regents would require a different empirical strategy than the one we use in this paper since gender of the first-born child and gender of the siblings of previous monarchs do not have predictive power in determining whether queen regents came to power.' Moreover, these instruments don't predict Queens like Catherine the Great while including Queens like Victoria who 'reigned but did not rule'.
Technically, Dube & Harish's instruments are not 'weak'- The bottom of Table 4 shows that the instruments together make for a strong first stage: the Kleibergen-Paap F-statistic is 13.7. Individually, each instrument also has a statistically significant effect on the likelihood of a queen coming to power. If the previous monarchs had a first-born male, this reduced the likelihood of a queen coming to power by 21.2%. In contrast, if they had a sister, this increased the likelihood of queen coming to power by 18.9%.- however, they could have got an even better result by choosing 'Ruler had a Vagina' and 'Ruler lacked Testicles'. We already know that most Queens inherited their position and so Dube & Harish's instruments are going to look kosher- but only to stupid Americans who think that European Queens got their Crowns by winning a pageant or because a Fairy Godmother waved her magic wand. The problem is that some other Queens, like Catherine the Great, did not inherit their position and actually ruled, unlike Mary II or Victoria who merely reigned. So what we have here is junk Social Science at its best- 'These estimates are economically important, representing a doubling over mean war participation over this period. In contrast, we find that queens were no more likely to experience civil wars or other types of internal instability.' 

Dube & Harish well illustrate the stupidity and ignorance of the Academy. Being of Indian origin, they have gone the extra mile to display racism as well as misogyny- thus, they cheerfully endorse Philip Quincy Wright's distinction between Civilised Europe and barbarians of darker hue by quoting his classification of Wars as follows- 

So, kids, what have we learnt today?
Women only get to Rule if their brothers die or were never born.
If married, they get their hubbies to help them coz they are shite in their own right.

What's more, the  'modern family of nations' is White and Christian.
Alien cultures aren't part of this family but Imperial Wars 'expand modern civilisation', which is a good thing coz dark people or Muslims or Hindooos or Confucians are uncivilised and not modern. 

Anyroad, that's what this pair of Indian origin American Academics want us to believe they believe.

Trump would be so proud.

Friday 21 April 2017

An Arrowvian Social Welfare Function is ab ovo Dictatorial.

Suppose there are only two feasible social states for the world identical in every way except that in one an Arrowvian Social Welfare function (ASWF) has been implemented.

Suppose there is only one agent. We don't know in advance which state of the world she would pick. It would appear that she has two choices because there are only 2 possible states of the world. However, there is a third possibility. She may want a world in which the ASWF is implemented by her choice.

If she wants this third possibility, and we don't rule it out before hand by an arbitrary or dictatorial action, she also may want to know this has been done. But, this means there is a new State of the World- viz. one in which the agent knows that the ASWF has been implemented.

Why stop here? Why not an infinite number of possible States of the World such that she has x per cent likelihood of discovering that an ASWF has been implemented with x being a real number between 0 and 100?

Clearly this means there is an uncountably infinite number of feasible social states if the existence or implementation of the A.S.W.F can itself be a subject of agents' preferences. Moreover, there is no way to verify if the A.S.W.F is doing its job. What if the agent stipulated that her likelihood of discovering that an ASWF has been implemented take an uncomputable value?

It is possible that the agent actually only wants or does not want an ASWF to be implemented. However, a priori, we can't rule out the possibility that she might have the following preference 'If it is going to rain on my picnic on Sunday, then I want to have certain knowledge that the ASWF has been implemented on Saturday.' It may be that there is enough evidence in the State of the World on Saturday to compute, with certainty, whether or not it will rain on her picnic on Sunday.

Clearly, if an ASWF can do complex calculations beyond our reach, a rational agent in a single person economy should want it to be implemented- unless it uses up scarce resources in its operations thus itself altering the State of the World.

I suppose we could bar an ASWF from giving agents this sort of information, or, indeed, from possessing it. We can restrict admissible preference profiles- and this is what Arrow does. However, this is a dictatorial act.  Moreover, if the functioning of an ASWF uses up scarce resources, it would be irrational to prefer its existence unless it itself generates Welfare. But if it is possible for it to generate Welfare simply by existing, then it is a proper input for agents' Preference profiles. To exclude it is arbitrary and dictatorial.

Returning to our one agent economy, what do we find? The agent, if rational, would not want a ASWF to be implemented because it is silly. The fact that a particular agent may be irrational or derive Utility from the knowledge that an ASWF has been implemented does not change the fact that it is possible for the agent to have preferred otherwise. Unlike a Bergsonian SWF, possible preferences matter to an ASWF. Thus, in a single agent economy, no ASWF would be implemented unless it were either dictatorial (in the matter of admissibility of preference profiles) or else non-deterministic and thus not an ASWF at all.

Suppose there are n agents in an economy. They think implementing an ASWF stupid and so it isn't implemented because that would be Dictatorial. Add one more agent. The ASWF still won't be implemented unless the new guy is a Dictator.

Thus an ASWF is dictatorial ab ovo.
It is a silly idea.

Is there some technical sense it which it isn't silly?
Notice in the following the crucial importance of the notion of 'weak ordering'.

The problem here is that the domain of f can be extended by adding 'prefer to have an ASWF implemented iff it makes no difference whatsoever' for every agent. Assuming people don't get negative or positive utility from an ASWF being implemented, then the conditions of U and SO are met by this newly extended domain since agents are indifferent to the new alternative. Whatever was a weak ordering of X is also a weak ordering of X extended to include the implementation of a completely neutral ASWF. 

By the conditions of 'Weak Pareto' and 'Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives'- this must be the case. Thus, an ASWF can itself feature in its own domain thus validating itself Democratically at the price of impredicativity. However, it will never be validated because even if people are irrational, it is possible that they might be rational and an ASWF can't dismiss that possibility in advance without being dictatorial.

To quote, once again, from the Stanford Encylopedia's article on Arrow's theorem, re. 'Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives'- 

Restricting Preference Profiles to (implement ASWF/ don't implement ASWF) the condition stated above requires that a third possibility viz.'conditionally implement ASWF'  is irrelevant. But this violates
because every rational person would prefer 'conditionally implement ASWF' to 'implement ASWF'. There may be an irrational person who chooses otherwise and Unrestricted Domain means we can't rule out this possibility. However, the ASWF must be dictatorial if it implements itself on the basis of such a person's possible existence.

Thursday 13 April 2017

Euthyprho's dilemma & the Bhagvad Gita

Socrates was charged with asebia (impiety). Eusebia was the word used in Ashokan India to translate Dharma into Greek. Thus Socrates was charged with violating Dharma.

On his way to the Court, Socrates meets Euthyprho who intends to prosecute his own father for manslaughter. Apparently, a slave belonging to the family had killed another slave on their estate. Once this became known, the slave was bound and gagged and left in a ditch where he died while Euthyprho's dad waited to hear from the legal authorities on how he should proceed.

Euthyprho thinks his decision to prosecute his Dad is highly pious that is Dharmic. Socrates engages him in dialogue, hoping- so he says- to find out what piety is so as to be use this knowledge to defend himself in his own trial. Clearly, this is stupid. The Court hears arguments and then decides what is pious. Socrates should shut the fuck up and follow Euthyprho to the Court, listen to the arguments, and then get a copy of the judgement. There may be something in it which helps his own case.

Interestingly, Euthyprho would have a duty to approach some particular type of Court even in Hindu India or Confucian China or ancient Israel. This is because the charge of manslaughter cancels ritual purity and thus it is a ceremonial requirement that the matter receive judicial treatment. In other words, a son only concerned to obey and cherish his father nevertheless has to take some step similar to Euthyprho for a ritualistic reason. Obviously, the son will be careful to 'jurisdiction shop' till he finds a way of getting a judgement on his father's ritual status which imposes little cost on the family.

Euthyprho's dilemma is stated thus- "Is the pious (τὸ ὅσιον) loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?'
This sounds like Socrates' 'absurd question' in the Symposium- 'is Love such as to be the love of something/someone or nothing/no-one? I am asking not if it is of a [or a particular] mother or father—for absurd would be the question if Love is love of a mother or father—but as if I were asking about the term father, “Is a father the father of someone or not?” You would have told me, I suppose, if you wanted to answer properly, that it is of a son or a daughter that a father is the father, wouldn’t you?'

Euthyprho could answer, 'that which is pious is something decided by the Court. That the Gods love the pious is an established judgement of the Court. Kindly examine relevant obiter dicta to see if an answer to your question has been provided. If it hasn't, perhaps this is an impious line of inquiry. In any case, it is absurd for you to question me as though I myself had the power to decide what is or is not pious. The Court- i.e. the ecclesia- alone has that power. It welcomes people who believe something is pious or impious to bring the matter before it. However, no argument that can be made before the court has any validity till it is upheld and becomes the basis of a judgement.'

In the same vein, Socrates' absurd question about Love could be answered 'Love is such that it can be of nothing or no one. I may see a picture of a beautiful woman and learn that she lives in the next town and has a great liking for fat balding men. I fall in love with her without having seen her in the flesh. As I walk towards her town, I am counselled that she might not be quite as pretty as she has been painted. Also, she does not like grossly fat and balding men. Further she has a bad temper and frequently hurls her frying pan at stupid people who are as ignorant as they are fat and balding.

'Hearing this, I am more in love than ever. To be truthful, the woman as painted was a little out of my league. Hearing she isn't that pretty in real life kindles a sort of warm compassion in my heart. Furthermore, I share her hatred of fat balding men who are ignorant and stupid. It shows she has good taste. More importantly, it appears she is no stranger to the frying pan- a good omen of our future connubial bliss.
'Anyway, once I reach her town and knock on the door of my beloved, I find she never existed. The picture I saw was of some actress who died long ago. All the circumstantial details my comrades invented were simply by way of a practical joke.
'Though the girl never existed, my Love for her still does. It may that I will meet someone else- not pretty at all- to whom I will transfer this Love. I will feel that this is the real object of my affection which previously had attached itself to a delusive image.'

Piety and Love can exist independently of any action or object . It is illegitimate, by any process of examination of an action or object, to supersede the right of whichever body or person is entitled to pronounce judgement on whether the act is pious or whether the object corresponds to what is loved.

I may advance very good arguments based on the evidence that OJ is guilty. However, I can't legitimately convict him of murder because I lack the authority. Under the Law, as it stands, he is innocent. Similarly, I can produce very good arguments why you should not love a particular person. I can go further and claim that you do not actually love that person.  It is impossible for you to do so. However, only you can validly affirm anything in this connection because only you can own your own beliefs- i.e. doxastic self-ownership is assumed.

It may be argued that I have not defined Piety or Love. Thus my argument fails. However, it is equally impossible for you to define 'definition' in an intensional manner. The best anybody can do in such matters is offer an extensional, that is descriptive, account or else employ 'recursive definitions' which are saved from circularity by 'base cases'. Since everything depends on following a rule from the base case, such sequences are protocol bound just like the decision procedure of a Court. It is a different matter that you can influence my beliefs. What you can't do is own them.

Euthyphro's dilemma can be recast in a manner fatal to 'teleological' Ethics- or indeed the notion that alethic 'normative reasons' exist.
A votary of 'effective altruism' might say 'My proselytising for effective altruism is a good thing because 'effective altruism' is a good thing.'
A sceptic might reply 'Proselytising is not doing good. It is proselytising- nothing more'.
The votary has a ready answer- 'I have statistical evidence that my proselytising has increased 'effective altruism'. Thus I have done good'.
The sceptic is not swayed- 'You have only shown that other people did more good, not that you did any.'
'Of course, I did good!' the votary replies angrily. 'Effective altruism teaches us to do good in a better way. Moreover, it affirms that teaching it is part of that better good.'
'A very convenient circular definition!' scoffs the sceptic, 'You are doing good because you define good as what you are doing'.
The votary does have a comeback, which cashes out as something like this- 'There is a causal link which is teleological in nature. Man was created to a particular end. It is to that same end that I proselytise. Thus, in the final analysis, or by means of 'backward induction', it will be seen that my proselytising for doing good was part and parcel of Doing Good's unfolding in the history of our species as its final end and highest good.'

Here circularity is avoided by invoking a base case- the teleological terminus- which is also the starting point of backward induction. It is certainly possible to found a Scientific Research Project on this intuition. This generates a theory of Human Nature. It is not, however, an ethical theory nor does it produce normative reasons because it is subject to the following dilemma-'If talking shite can produce a normative reason for talking shite then it is a shite normative reason.'

This dilemma could be defeated if it were possible to produce a normative reason without talking shite. However, only worthless shitheads produce normative reasons, so even if the thing could be done, it won't be. This does not mean normative reasons can't exist in a non shite form so long as a problem is open. But they still wouldn't be categorical. What if an open problem is closed in a manner favourable to that normative reason? In that case, the information set has also changed. The normative reason has been swamped by something that is purely economic. It is no longer 'action guiding' because something else- something positive, not normative- has become action schemata determining such that there is a saltation to a wholly new choice menu. It may be that a normative reason still operates so certain choices are ruled out, but, because the menu is different, they aren't actually the same choices at all (because they have different income effects or involve different hedges). Thus, whatever the appearance of continuity, what has happened is that the closing of an open problem in maths destroys a normative reason, though a new one may be created by another problem which opens up.

What has Euthprho's dilemma have to do with the Gita? Surely, it represents a polar opposite because God himself is present to testify. Eusebia consists of simply going through preordained motions in a detached manner. Piety consists in doing what God wants you to do and what will happen any way.

Looked at more closely, we notice that the Gita features only the dharma of Agents, not Principals. Both Arjuna and Krishna have willingly assumed a subordinate position and wish to fulfil the corresponding duty. Yet, Arjuna's loyalty is to his eldest brother who at the end of the Mahabharata denounced Dharma- God's plan for the world- as unjust and impious. Interestingly, Draupadi, their common wife, had previously denounced Dharma as the product of an amoral and unjust Mayin (Controller or Demi-urge). This is not far short of the Gnostic doctrine of the essential evil of this world and the God who controls it.

Since Arjuna has a particular boon which began to operate once he suffered 'Vishada' and since this boon permitted him to see everything he would want to in the manner he would want to, it follows that his vision is not such as would cause him to break with either his wife or eldest brother on the grounds that their condemnation of Dharma is itself impious. Indeed, Krishna's theophany scares Arjuna shitless. Cosmic Justice is a Horror Story. Still he and Krishna are good buddies and you don't give a bro a hard time just coz he's got a shitty job. Yuddhishtira's Daddy however is Dharma incarnate. It is fine to give Dad a hard time when you find out his job is fucking up the world big time more especially when he is swanning around making out that he himself if the Incarnation of Justice and Piety and so on. Krishna aint doing that. His name means 'Blackie'. If it turns out that the hero's African-American best friend is actually running the Universe- sure, the honky gonna do a double take. It's perfectly natural for him to feel a bit sore about always getting stuck with the bar tab. But there's not a lot of mileage here. What's important is things go back to the way they were- the hero shooting off arrows, while his best friend steers the battle car and the body count goes through the roof.

Yuddhishtira had an 'inward light' which enabled him to tell right from wrong, though he also spent a lot of time listening to a discourse on Ethics, which confirmed him in the view that even if what is Right is univocal and Cosmic in character it might still be wrong not to reject it because the Cosmos itself is but a bagatelle in the larger scheme of things. As T.S Eliot says-

'Not fare well,
'But fare forward, voyagers.'

However, this stricture only applies to people talking about other's Welfare, not those who accomplish it because, truth be told, of the universal car-crash that is the working of morality the only moral thing that can be said is-
'Move along folks!
'Nothing to see here.'

Tuesday 11 April 2017

The truth about Champaran

Two different things happened over the course of 1916-17 which defined India's subsequent trajectory. Firstly, Mohammad Ali Jinnah helped the Muslim League come to an agreement with the Indian National Congress. Secondly, well organised Hindu mobs targeted Muslims over a wide area of Bihar on the issue of cow-slaughter. Taken together, these two events determined the subsequent course of Indian history by making it clear that, firstly, Hindus and Muslims would co-operate to take more and more power from the British and finally throw them out all together and, secondly, that Majoritarian policies would de facto obtain, no matter what agreements were made. Minorities would have to accept second class status or migrate.

This was not inevitable and certainly not desirable. For historical reasons, many of the most public spirited people in Hindu majority areas were Muslim. Whichever genuine socio-political problem we look at, we find there were extremely able and far sighted Muslims involved at a grass-roots level. No doubt, there was an elite element with a comprador attitude which turned the existence of minorities into a raison d'etre for the Raj. Yet, organised communalism which instrumentalized mob violence on supposedly religious grounds was equally an elite affair. Both types of elite politics back-fired spectacularly. Sadly, Socialism was not able to fill the vacuum this left because of its own instrumentalization of caste. What remained was the remorseless corruption and criminalization of politics with little thought being given to governance or the Rule of Law.

In 1917, Mahatma Gandhi, still a novice on the Indian political stage, had little or nothing to do with either malign development. However, he did get involved in an unimportant side-show- viz. the anti indigo-planter agitation in Champaran. This did wonders for his reputation though, when we look into matters a little more closely, we find that Gandhi's experiences in Champaran, where he was living amongst people whose language and mode of livelihood he did not understand, shaped his thinking in a highly unfortunate manner.

The inequities associated with Indigo cultivation had long been known. Otto Trevelyan's best-selling 'the Competition wallah' dwells upon it length in a book published before Gandhi was born. The play 'Neel Darpan'- the mirror of indigo- was equally famous among the Bengali and Bihari speaking people. A Scottish missionary was sentenced to jail for translating it into English. 

The presence of European planters meant that the Champaran agitation- spearheaded by moneylenders, businessmen, lawyers and well off tenants- could take on an anti-Imperialist colouring. However, the Government was already aware that the campaign was meaningless. This is because an agricultural institute had been established in Pusa, near Champaran, with money given by an American friend of Lord Curzon. British agricultural scientists had come to the conclusion that indigo was unprofitable though, curiously, it's byproduct was a good fertiliser. The future lay with tobacco. By 1916, ITC was active in encouraging planters to switch to tobacco- new strains of which were being developed in a Scientific manner. Many ex-indigo planters ended up working for or alongside ITC.

The war, which had caused competition from the German artificial dye to be temporarily suspended, had created an anomalous situation where tenants who had refused to pay a bounty to be released from the obligation to grow some indigo, believing the crop to be unprofitable, now found themselves required to do so. This threatened the prosperity of a new indigenous middle class which was upwardly mobile and keenly interested in the vernacular press. Such people saw that the Indian National Congress could become their vehicle for class power if it abandoned its elitist Anglophone ways and embraced the vernacular language and political culture.  The genius of Raj Kumar Shukla- a clever agriculturist who had developed in to a wheeler-dealer earning a good income from money-lending- lay in persuading Gandhi to come to Champaran.  This was because Gandhi was known to be impeccably pro-British. Furthermore, if he was externed from the District, C.F. Andrews would take over. The charge that 'slavery' was continuing in a disguised form was a very serious one. The Govt. rightly considered Gandhi less dangerous than Andrews, so the latter went off to Fiji to look into the plight of the Indian plantation workers there.

Gandhi, a trained lawyer, did a good job in Champaran. He refused to admit obviously fraudulent affidavits. Furthermore, he was able to attract good quality volunteers as well as generous funding for the setting up of Schools etc. However, these initiatives collapsed quite quickly. Meanwhile, the Agricultural Research Institute, together with private sector initiatives, was changing the prospects of the better off agriculturists. The landless labourers and Scheduled Castes however gained nothing or, indeed, lost some entitlements. By the 1930's, there was a clear schism along class and caste lines in the countryside. The British no longer had salience as they themselves saw that only the rational application of Technology and Agricultural Science- not legal trickery or strong arm tactics- could enable them to recoup their investments.

The brilliant, mainly Kayastha, lawyer-politicians, like Brajkishore Prasad (later the father in law of 
JP Narayan) and Rajendra Prasad, became devoted Gandhians because he appeared to cross class and caste lines in a manner that did not undermine the socio-economic order. JP's subsequent highly quixotic trajectory shows both the positive and negative fall out of Gandhi's Champaran campaign. Like Gandhi, JP appeared to be tackling fundamental problems at the grass-roots level. In reality, he was undermining the rule of law and preparing the ground for the apotheosis of the caste based gangster politician.

On the one hand, Gandhi's 'mass contact' initially had an alethic basis. Gandhi was actually taking down some truthful affidavits. On the other, he completely neglected the broader Economic and Scientific picture. Why? Gandhi espoused a worldview stuck hopelessly in the past. He was against factories. His clients had brought him in because they knew he would see the indigo factory as something inherently evil. The need for tobacco or sugar or flour factories- to which farmers wanted to sell their produce- is what is missing from his report. Thus, it suggested no new way forward for the people of the region.

The most glaring lacuna in Gandhi's report on Champaran is the manner on which it capitalises on the genuine suffering of the poorest but does so in a disingenuous manner by conflating it with the economic harm sustained by the better off. A wealthy man owning 200 hundred acres, who has an elephant in his stable, suffers some property damage inflicted by goons employed by the factory. His pain and suffering gets recorded and is used as an argument against Imperialism. Meanwhile the 'untouchable' deprived of customary rights by that same man is completely ignored.

Gandhi in his autobiography constantly harps on the indigence and simplicity of Raj Kumar Shukla. Yet the man was earning more, according to his own testimony to the Inquiry Commission, than an ICS officer.  He had been previously dismissed from a post as an Estate Manager for peculation. He may have been born into relative poverty, but he was a cunning man who had done very well for himself.

Around the same time that Gandhi was earning his spurs in Champaran,  a 26 year old Muslim's talent and good character was taken official note of by his elevation to the style and title of Nawab of Chattari. He had been educated up to the Tenth standard at a good school but then been forced to take over the management of his small family estate. He turned out to be a very good farmer. By his thrift and energy he was able to buy up surrounding estates and also to establish schools and see to the proper running of the local administration. Later he would lament his failure to set up factories on his Estates so that agricultural improvement went hand in hand with the creation of better quality livelihoods. However, his education had been purely literary. Still, people like him were starting to understand the importance of technical education- in particular in engineering.

 The Nawab of Chattari's ability made him a natural representative of the 'Landlord's party' and so he was appointed a Minister of Industries in the Provincial Cabinet in the Twenties. Gaining access to technocrats, the Nawab fostered agro-industries. He had a distinguished public career and was trusted by all. Curiously, he was Pakistan's second High Commissioner to India yet, by prior agreement, he kept his Indian citizenship and died many years later full of honours in his ancestral home.

Gandhi's politics did have appeal to brilliant lawyers, like Rajendra Prasad, as well as enterprising landlords like the Nawab. Why? Well, Gandhi was appealing to Universal Morality. He wasn't peddling a paranoid sectarian message- e.g. 'Islam is in danger!' or 'Protect the Cow!. 

Unfortunately, Gandhi was ignoring something more important than Universal Morality- viz Practical Reason- doing sensible things rather than talking worthless shite. The result was that he and his followers became habitual liars and self-aggrandising fantasists. Gandhi wasted over a million dollars on his Khadi campaign. Yet Khadi, like indigo, was bound to disappear. The obstinate European planters, who ostracised the British agricultural expert for telling them this truth, were forced to change their minds. Indigo was abandoned, Tobacco flourished. Similarly, those handloom weavers who rejected Gandhi's advise and bought Mill Yarn for their looms and mill-cloth for themselves, were able to make a good living by concentrating on the top end of the market. Others, who relied on Gandhian institutions- which were later on taken over by the Government- slowly starved.

The truth about Gandhi's sojourn in Champaran is that it was the opposite of  Ceasar's-  'veni, vidi, vici'. He came to Champaran but he didn't see what was really happening there because he hadn't been brought there to see anything except what his client wanted him to see. Still, as Rajendra Prasad says, he did weed out some of the more obviously fraudulent affidavits. But he didn't see the bigger fraud being practised upon him. He conquered nothing. He was conquered by a particular upwardly mobile Hindu class and used thereafter as a sort of mascot by them. Thus, at the same time as Gandhi was taking affidavits in Champaran, the Shahabad riots were being planned. Prasad himself remained a high level Hindu Mahasabha member for some years subsequently. Majoritarianism, in Bihar, proceeded apace under a Gandhian mask. With hindsight, everybody lost, not gained, by this fraud because able people- like the Nawab of Chattari- were being shut out of policy making because they belonged to the wrong religion or caste. Politics, as a profession, became tarnished- it was seen as part of the problem, not the solution.

The Indian countryside would like quite different now if money raised for Khilafat or Khaddar or other such worthless kaka had been invested in Agricultural Research Institutes and Colleges.  Similarly, had the worthless boodhan movement concentrated on updating Land Registers and educating villagers to ensure that title in land was accurately and incorruptibly kept, then Socio-economic development would have been much more rapid and benign.

Monday 10 April 2017

B.K Matilal & the impossibility of an 'action guide' dilemma

B.K Matilal wrote-

So, Matilal thinks an 'action guide' dilemma arises if there is what in Economics is called a 'choice situation', such that an action has an 'opportunity cost' in terms of the next best alternative that has to be foregone. Scarcity means that actions have an opportunity cost. Our time is scarce. If I devote this minute to typing this, I can't also use this minute to go and get myself a biscuit. Even thinking about something involves an opportunity cost. If I spend this minute thinking about that biscuit which is piteously calling to me from the cupboard, I can't spend this same minute thinking about how best to murli Manohar Joshi.

It is not moral or religious to waste time thinking obviously stupid thoughts. To imagine anyone, strictly motivated by Religion or Morality, can have an 'action guide' dilemma is to have wasted time thinking an obviously stupid thought. That's why non-stupid Religious and Philosophical authorities say 'action guide' dilemmas don't exist within their systems of ethics. What may exist is mental derangement of some sort which causes a person to feel that they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. The Sanskrit word 'Vishada' denotes this type of derangement. Arjuna suffers from Vishada which is why he says things which indicate he has an 'action guide' dilemma. Krishna cures him of this Vishada. That's what happens in the Gita. A sick man is cured. It turns out there was no 'action guide' dilemma at all.

Why is it obviously stupid to think a Religious or Moral 'action guide' dilemma can exist? The answer is that, if such a dilemma arises, then either
1) the agent has already done something which puts him beyond the pale of that Religion or Morality- viz. whatever actions led to him being put in the dilemma. Take Hamlet's quandary. It only arose because he had commerce with an unclean spirit. Neither Religion nor Morality says you have to listen to ghosts- more especially when they tell you to kill your Uncle. No one thinks of Hamlet as featuring an 'action guide' dilemma of a particularly Christian or Moral sort. It is a tragedy. A mind keen enough to grasp Agrippa's trilemma has been caught in a self spun snare. This is hamartia- a tragic flaw in a Prince of great intellect and noble character.
2) that Religion or Morality is not truly action guiding at all and hence of no use to its votary for whom some such crutch seems necessary. Drop the crutch. Economics is the discipline whose subject is opportunity cost. Any given Religion or Morality, if it satisfies a plausible condition I will describe in my next paragraph, can be shown to have a 'complete deontic code' such that there is always a prescribed action under every state of the world and thus no choice has to be made and hence no opportunity cost is incurred. It is a different matter that a hermeneutic or epistemological or 'signal extraction' problem might arise in decoding what that prescribed action is. But, qua that action, Consequences are irrelevant. A mass murderer may be let free on a point of law even if the consequences will be very bad. That doesn't matter. What matters is that the law is correctly interpreted according to its own system of 'artificial reason'.

Let us call a Religion or Moral Scheme's deontic code complete if it prescribes an action at every moment in time for its votary.  This means that the votary never incurs an opportunity cost- there was literally nothing else he could conscionably do- and hence experiences 'zero regret' with respect to his actions if he is a true believer.

If the moral code is not known to be complete but a 'zero-regret' trajectory is feasible for a particular votary, then, by the Szpilrayn extension theorem, we know the moral code is complete for that agent.

Can this moral code be complete for any arbitrary agent? Yes, if there is a choice sequence through Stalnaker-Lewis closest possible worlds such that the ideal agent's world deforms continuously into that of the arbitrary agent so that the feasible zero regret trajectory of the former maps onto the decision space of the latter

Alternatively, we could define a coordination game whose correlated equilibrium expresses the same thing. This enables us to use information contained in the 'zero regret' stipulation regarding the ideal agent's trajectory.
Imagine two players in a coordination game who are both privately informed by an omniscient being about how to act. One is told to behave like the ideal agent and given signals so as to make decisions she won't regret. The other is told to behave like the arbitrary agent and given signals to make decisions which the other player would not regret were she in the shoes of the arbitrary agent.
The omniscient being can now construct a pay-off mechanism such that no signals need be given. Hart & Mas-Collel have shown that knowledge of this pay-off matrix is sufficient for the correlated equilibrium to be achieved. Thus, we don't have to have an omniscient being at all. We have shown there must be some game where the Hannan consistent strategy gets us to the result we need.

Thus we know a complete deontic code for everybody must exist if there is a feasible 'zero-regret' trajectory for even just one votary of it.

Let us look at this another way. Suppose I believe Mother Theresa could have lived a life in obedience to a deontic code which I myself believe in and that if she had done so she would have had no regrets nor faced any dilemmas. Is this sufficient information for everybody to, in good-faith, agree that there must be a complete moral code for me as well- even though I am a man, not a woman, and live in a different world with different opportunities and different threats?
The answer is yes.
Suppose every rational, non antagonomic, person who ever had or will have a view on this topic were endowed with infinitely long lives and infinite information and computing power and that they were all put in a room together and asked to decide on this question.  Then, sooner or later there would be something like 'Aumann agreement' between them as to what Mother Theresa would do in my shoes. Of course, this consensus might only be achieved very very long after the Universe has been destroyed. Still, this suffices as an 'existence proof' that so long as Mother Theresa had a feasible zero regret trajectory and I believe I should do what she would do in my shoes, then there is a complete moral code for me which is 'objective' but which might be beyond my ken.

What if we, quite sensibly, don't want to have anything to do with mathematical theorems or thought experiments involving infinite computing power?

Then, it is still the case that if we think there is at least one person who, on his deathbed, can truthfully say 'if I'd followed such and such deontic code, I'd never have had anything to regret' then we know of a moral code that is complete. Either there is some 'work on oneself' we need to do so as to be fit to implement that moral code, or else we're just shit out of 'moral luck' and damned by that deontic code for a reason which Religion or Morality can treat as a mystery it would be impious to inquire further into.

One way out of this gloomy conclusion is to reflect that any regret minimising strategy could represent a moral code over its duration.  By backward induction, choosing that moral code renders it zero-regret. Stitching together durations to make a life history, composed of 'stations of life' regulated by different deontic codes, is then sufficient to redeem our lives. The Hindu 'Varnashrama dharma' is sometimes viewed in this light. This is fine if the lens we are looking through is something like  'Hanann consistent adaptive learning'. However, as a justification for a 'casteist' status quo it is worthless shite because it cashes out as nothing but moral dilemma piled on dilemma without any action guiding actually occurring.

To conclude, we know there is a complete moral code, such that 'normative reasons' exist at every moment of our lives, and, what's more, it's what we'd have chosen anyway given our preferences, endowments and Bayesian priors. However, the code may not be effectively computable or else may have exponential Kolgorov complexity. That's a good thing because Newcombe problems exist and also because an easily hackable code renders us vulnerable to parasites and predators.

A moral code that insists that it be effable at every point- i.e. justify its actions in rational terms- must be different from the globally regret minimising moral code if computation, that is cognition, uses up scarce resources or else if strategic problems arise. The effable code may be superior for an agent who devotes himself to a 'second order' good- e.g. proselytising for deontics. However, in that case the associated complete moral code considers those who do first order good to be 'damned'.

Does this give rise to a dilemma? Nope. People who think they are doing 'second order good' are too deluded to understand that they need to stop talking shite and do some 'first order good'. Suppose you get paid more, or gain more prestige by doing 'second order good'- it remains the case that you are crowding out the first order good you can do. It may appear that the second order good creates much more of the first order good than you could possibly produce yourself. This is a delusive appearance. It is just bad Economics not some fancy-shmancy moral dilemma you can vapour over. Get over yourself. Admit the truth. Moral dilemmas are the chrematistics of a worthless class.

Saturday 8 April 2017

Roopen Majithia on the Gita

The Gītā opens with its protagonist, Arjuna, the preeminent warrior of his time, facing a classic moral dilemma: should he or should he not go into battle against his Kāurava cousins and extended family, his former friends and teachers? Arjuna stands between the battle lines with his friend and charioteer Krishna, sees his family, friends and teachers arrayed against him, and finds himself faced with the full force of a moral dilemma. Going into battle will allow him to fulfill his personal duty (svadharma) as a warrior (kshatriyā), or what is also referred to as his class duty (varṇadharma). But he sees very clearly now that this civil war will also involve the death of many members of his extended family, and the possible destruction of society as he knows it (BG 2.39-43). This has often been conceived as a violation of the universal duties that all human beings have qua human, or what is called sādhāraṇa dharma. If he were not to fight, then he would not have the blood of his family and loved ones on his hands, though he would not be living up to his obligations as a warrior and a brother. He can either fight or not fight, but he cannot do both. Yet any choice he makes violates his obligations in some way, which is precisely what is meant by a moral dilemma. It is no wonder then that he sets his bow down in despair and seeks the advice of his friend and charioteer Krishna, who also happens to be the Divine incarnate

This is from Prof. Roopen Majithia's cogent, well researched, paper here which summarises how contemporary philosophers view the ethics of the Gita.

The tenor of his own views may be discerned from his comment on the following verse-

3.25 While those who are unwise act From attachment to action, O Arjuna,
 So the wise should act without attachment
 Intending to maintain the welfare of the world (lokasaṁgraham).

 This is an important verse not simply because it presents the consequentialist principle of world-welfare, but because it does so in the context of the deontological sounding language of detachment. 

Krishna can advise those who are wise and in pursuit of perfection this way because detachment has to do with how duty is undertaken which is always agent-relative to her state and station in life. 

Whereas the principle of world-welfare is the basis of how duty is justified, which is agent-neutral because it holds for all agents regardless of their stage and station in life. 

So now we can see how the Gītā marries deontology with consequentialism. The deontological sounding aspects of the text, we saw, conceives right action in terms of rule following without concern for personal consequences, whereas consequentialism understands right action in terms of whether or not a good state of affairs are promoted by such action. The Gītā asks us to follow dharma regardless of a certain kind of consequence and at the same time recognizes that dharma is grounded in a different kind of consequence that promotes world welfare. So it is not unreasonable to say that the text’s seeming deontology is ultimately grounded in consequentialism, even though detachment’s exclusion of a certain kind of consequence might lead us to think otherwise.

Majithia is Indian and, unlike most Western philosophers, knows the Mahabharata well. Yet he thinks Arjuna's dilemma can't arise from a conflict between kuladharma (duty to obey his eldest brother- Karna) and svadharma (his own self-chosen duty to kill Karna, in obedience to Karna's wish, while in a state of manyu (dark anger) and contrary to the rules of war).

Majithia could argue that Arjuna does not know that Karna is his eldest brother. However the Mahabharata deliberately includes an episode where Arjuna is given the boon of chaksushi vidya which enables him to see anything he wishes in the manner which is best for him. If Arjuna did not use this boon to gain strategic information then his 'Vishada' (depression) is a result of his own hubris or hamartia (character flaw). In that case, the Gita is not a philosophical epoche but a Tragic, though magnificent, coda of a type conventional to Iron Age bardic traditions.

The Hindus had a well elaborated deontics. Conflict between kuladharma and svadharma or sadharana dharma have been well discussed. However, no definite conclusion was reached because the Hindus have always accepted that the 'Common Law' of the region- or 'best practice of the best people'- or 'what is necessary to survive' (apadh dharma)- is what is normative. 'Nyaya'- the Law- is not 'artificial reason' as in the English tradition though parts of India had a Navya-nyaya tradition which hoped to make it so.
Still, it remains the case that the Law has no separate existence but is a 'samskar' simply. Thus no Dharmic dilemmas can arise by reason of the lack of an equitable remedy because the Law- as distinct from the Vow- was never general or a priori but rather pragmatic and empirical. It might result in individual injustice but 'samskar' could always cancel 'samskar'. Eventualities were defeasible even if procedures weren't.

Dharma- which was translated perfectly by Indians as Eusebia- which in turn became the Latin 'pietas' and the English 'piety'- does feature dilemmas but these dilemmas have no legal or economic dimension. Instead they point to the ever ongoing inward collapse of the boundaries of the secular and, in that crepuscular atmosphere, the increasing luminescence of that liminal space where Gods and Men die each others lives and live each others deaths. Even here, however, there was no real dilemma. There was a way out of this liminal bardo, barzakh or antarabhava. The paradox here was that the viyogini proved superior to the Yogi. Yearning for Union with what is beyond Eros turned out to be a higher Yoga than ascesis. The mad poet uttered sooth while learned pundits prattled nonsense.

That, however, was considered a later development. Still, in the Mahabharata itself it is made clear that a Warrior can leave his kuladharma and become an ascetic without incurring odium by reason of substitution- as for example if a son discharges his function. However, there is nothing to stop a Warrior- like Balram, Krishna's elder brother- saying the Sanskrit equivalent of 'sod this for a game of soldiers' and departing the scene of battle with a large pot of wine tucked under one arm while the other shoulders a wooden plough.

It seems, Majithia thinks Krishna is a 'Casteist'. A man's duty is determined at birth. However, if that man performs his hereditary duty with detachment, then he gains some benefit of an esoteric kind. The problem here is that Karna is not the son of King Pandu, nor the head of the Pandavas, if he doesn't want to be. This is because he was born before his mother's marriage. However, he remains the eldest brother of the three older Pandavas by reason of common descent. Karna keeps changing caste- now a Suta, now a Brahmin, now a Kshatriya. Yet the Mahabharata upholds his status as the one who determines the Pandava's kuladharma. It is he who wishes the Kurukshetra battle to go ahead as a ritual vishodhana or purgation by blood. Notice, neither he nor Arjuna act with detachment in their climacteric duel. Both are in the grip of Manyu, dark anger.

In other words, all this talk of detachment and caste duties is just hogwash. The Gita is an occassionalist text of a highly Theistic sort. It is foolish to look for consequentialism or deontology in it because God is the efficient cause of everything and, anyway, maybe the World isn't real at all.

This does not mean, however, that there is no philosophy in the Gita.
It references an open problem in Mathematics and therefore must have Philosophical content.

Krishna resolves Arjuna's dilemma which is of a backward induction type. To do his duty with detachment he has to kill the one who imposed that duty, that too while in a state of 'dark anger'.
There is only one possible path from the required outcome back to the depressive 'decision situation' featured in the 'Vishada Yoga' chapter of the Gita. I have argued elsewhere that this 'golden path' features a 'zero knowledge proof' of an exceptionally powerful kind and this is instructive when we consider ethical dilemmas we are currently faced with concerning encryption and block-chain technologies. Briefly, I believe that we can have a 'normative reason' based on something we suspect to be true- e.g. P is not equal to NP- which offers a Muth rational solution to a coordination problem of a particular kind. I think what Krishna is doing in the Gita is a concrete model for this but we can't prove this till we have the proof we currently lack. At that point, however, the 'normative reason' disappears. I think that's interesting. Smarter people may find yet more interesting things but only if they look for things which are open problems in Maths- and therefore Philosophy.

I suppose, if I were an academic, it would be convenient for me to say 'The Gita is a short book which tells you everything you need to know about Hindu ethics'. Certainly, this is a solution for an ongoing coordination problem. However, it is based on a stupid lie and so all the academic work currently being done on the Gita is utterly, hilariously, worthless.

Hinduism has deontology- lots of Niti Sutras and Vyavahara Sutras and so on- but its deontology is defeasible, empirical, and at the level of 'samskar'- i.e. is phenomenological merely.  No dilemmas arise because any stain arising from omission or commission is easily purged by 'right intention' (chetana) cultivated in community with like-hearted strivers (Yogis). Krishna himself is able to bring about the 'regret minimizing' outcome of the Gita because Arjuna appeals to him as the Lord of the Yogis.

Hinduism has Positive Economics- Artha Shastra- and the Just King, Yuddhishtra, has to learn Statistical Game Theory to overcome his own 'Vishada'. He also learns, in the Vyadha Gita, that the common people should ignore Kings and Priests and pursue their own economic interests in a rational manner. This, as if by the Myserson Satterthwaite General Feasibility theorem, yields prosperity on the basis of consensual, uncoerced interactions in a repeated Game. There is no need for 'Prophets' when the 'Revelation Principle' obtains because agents in repeated Games soon figure out appropriate Vickrey-Clarke mechanisms. Just Kings should compete by setting up Tiebout models and ensure free Entry & Exit. Hirschman 'Voice' and 'Loyalty' will spontaneously appear or else the model crashes.

No sensible person mixes Positive Economics with Deontology- unless 'rule based consequentalism' counts as such- because that is the job of senile Professors obeying Rothbard's Law- i.e. specialising in saying the stupidest thing possible given their antecedents.

The Gita isn't about 'Niti' or 'Artha'. It is an epoche of a dramatic type which we could restate as a backward induction based 'regret minimization problem' subject to an arbitrary informational constraint. It does tell us interesting things about open problems in decision theory in the same way that the Talmud, thanks to Robert Aumann, tells us interesting things. Unfortunately, India's karma is so bad, we got stuck with Amartya Sen and can only dream of one day getting an Aumann of our own.

Returning to Majitha's paper, let us see how he arrives at his view. My remarks are in bold.

Even a cursory reading of the Gītā makes it clear that the language of duty based on one’s stage and station in life (varṇāśramadharma) is pervasive. The Gita is a chapter- one concerned with a highly melodramatic situation-  in a much larger text. A cursory reading of it is bound to mislead because the context is lacking to grasp its multiple ironies. Why is 'Ranchodh' (the one who flees the battlefield, an epithet of Lord Krishna) preaching belligerence? Is it a joke- like when Bhima dresses up as a woman? Furthermore, we already know Karna is the true eldest brother. He only has to reveal his true birth for the Pandavas to submit. Will Krishna give away Karna's secret? He is one smart dude, but he is also related to Kunti. Will his natural affection get the better of him? Or will he find a cunning way out? I will argue that these deontological elements in the text are concerned with how right action must be undertaken, which is distinct from how right action is justified. Hinduism already had a sophisticated literature on how actions are to be undertaken and how they are to be justified. There are extended discourses on such subjects within the epic. The Gita references them as it does the Vedas and Upanishads and so on but it is not principally concerned with either field. We can be sure of this because we have the dual of the Bhagvad Gita to make a comparative study. The Vyadha Gita says that there is no right way to do a thing nor is any justification necessary because nothing is intrinsically right or wrong.  The Vyadha is a butcher of animals just as Arjuna is a butcher of men. Both conduct their trade as they see fit and any fool who challenges them with talk of ethics is laughed at because both are very skilful butchers whereas the fool is just logic chopping empty air. Such justification comes in broadly consequentialist terms of world-welfare, as I have already hinted. Nonsense! The World may be wholly delusive and illusory- many of the greatest commentators on the Gita held that belief.  Nevertheless, auspiciousness can be discerned from inauspiciousness, piety from impiety.  World-welfare is linked to kairos- timeliness. This has nothing to do with consequentialism of the Western type which has no concept of kairos or even dialectic. But the point of this endeavour is not to reduce the Gītā’s ethical theory to a variant of a western theory, since the centrality of liberation or mokṣa in the Gītā’s position makes this impossible, as we will see. Rather, the Gītā’s is a transformative synthesis that shows what it will take to make an agent-neutral consequentialism work consistently. Utilitarianism doesn't have a problem with 'Moksha'- at least not since John Stuart Mill. There is a workaround even if we abandon cardinal utility.
 Agent-neutral consequentialism may or may not 'work consistently' but we know that if we permit the work to be done non-deterministically, then it has a consistent implementation- though what that might be is not effectively computable and may feature unknowable partitions.
The Gita does not mention anyone having to learn discrete maths. That happened in the dual episode concerning the Just King's Vishada. There is no 'transformative synthesis' here answering to a type of economic philosophy associated with Nineteenth Century maths. Andre Weil spent a lot of time reading the Gita in Sanskrit. If the thing was there, he'd have found it.

Elsewhere, our author writes-

So it would seem that consequences of two kinds have a role in dhārmic duty undertaken with detachment: one kind that is explicit and helps determine the best fitting action that would instantiate that duty in a particular circumstance, and another that is concerned with world-welfare either implicitly or explicitly. 
Kings and Priests may claim that their actions are in line with their duty to promote world-welfare. If they are powerful and feared or their powers are effective, or believed to be effective, they may drop such claims or make them in a pro forma manner. 
The Veda itself shows that Priests who make a ritual mistake can escape the consequence if someone else writes a hymn which changes the law in this respect. What matters is skilfulness and timeliness. 'Detachment' lessens anxiety, permits delayed gratification, and improves attentiveness and dexterity. But this is true in all fields. The Vyadha became a very wealthy meat wholesaler living in a palace and worshipping his own parents as his gods because he had enough detachment to practice his craft in a rational fashion rather than let myopic greed lead him to commit fraud (Vyadha has the connotation of fraudsters because butchers were notorious cheats unlike 'Gandhi' green-grocers). He enjoyed the good life while gaining the highest knowledge described in the Chandogya Upanishad. Thus he is the equal to Krishna Devakiputra and can function as his peer in the dual to the Bhagvad Gita.
It is utterly foolish to think that a butcher who is good at his job and consequently thriving must also learn something called the 'duty of the butcher' which is further divided into ' most fitting actions for butchers' and 'role of butchers in promoting world-welfare'. I'm not saying the butcher's guild might not pay some Pundit to write some such screed and get it published. I'm saying everybody would recognise it to be mere puffery. Apprentice butchers might have to sleep through some such lectures but it would still be nonsense though, no doubt, it might serve a rationing or screening function.

Is our author doing something similar here?

Implicitly since consequences concerning world-welfare are built into dharma, and explicitly when it is unclear which duty will promote world-welfare. Right! That's what happens when a warrior is faced with a spear thrust by the enemy.  He makes a dharmic calculation as to whether to dodge the spear thrust or take it in the gut. This involves deciding which action best promotes world welfare.  Even in instances of the latter, it should be reiterated, it is still the case that action is undertaken without concern for personal consequences and in line with the spirit of scriptural injunction and therefore seems deontological to that extent. Not deontological but demented. Even Asimov's robots had a duty to preserve themselves though this duty was superseded by another such that a robot might sacrifice itself to save a human.

Presumably, Krishna thinks Arjuna’s fighting is required by the principle of world welfare because the world is worse off if Arjuna doesn’t fight, perhaps because victory cannot be secured without him, or, at the very least, because it would set a terrible dhārmic precedent. 
If this view is correct, the Gita is silly. Hindus are fools. Krishna could just teleport all the warriors to separate worlds where they slay simulacra of their enemies and die peacefully in their beds.
This understanding of detachment, with its built-in notion of world-welfare that is ultimately conducive to mokṣa, helps us see how obvious instances of detached criminal action at least are implausible; for such action would clearly be against the letter and spirit of dharma. I'm afraid this isn't Krishna's teaching as the author very well knows. Still, the author does go on to give a good account of the novel 'Samkhya-Yoga' aspect of the Gita which, when combined with Yuddhishtra's lesson in Game Theory, takes us to open problems in the Sciences and therefore actual  Philosophy, as opposed to arid Pedantry.

The text’s utilitarian principle of world-welfare provides the basis for assessing the nature of one’s duty in a changing world, even when faced with competing duties as in the case of moral dilemmas. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both the Gita and its dual arise in response to a mental abnormality (Vishada) in an agent. They are therapeutic. There is no need to follow the therapy once one is cured- as happens to both Yuddhishtra and Arjuna. The former, however, still has to learn 'Niti' to bischarge his duty because, after the death of Karna, he is a principal not an agent. Of course, it helps on the grounds of consistency that the duties themselves are ultimately derived not from a deontological principle but a utilitarian one. Therapeutic, not UtilitiarianYet this raises another issue, for one of the problems that many versions of utilitarianism often have is that these result in agents being alienated from their own projects, since agents are required to pursue the greater good for all (even if, as we saw in the case of Mill, such a move is not always easily justifiable). A guy being treated for an illness is not required to pursue the greater good for all. However, he benefits by considering the world as interconnected and itself being healed. The Gītā actually converts this into an advantage since it justifies this implication by suggesting that the empirical agent’s projects are not of ultimate concern, since not pursuing the dehā’s (lower self’s) personal goals is actually conducive to mokṣa for the dehi (Higher Self). This is only the case where the deha is subject to klesha. Once the klesha are removed, no such infirmity arises.  Obviously, if you are in hospital you shouldn't be pursuing your lower self's personal goals- like getting drunk and punching people in bars- but thinking good thoughts and cultivating your higher self. In so doing, the text also gives a metaphysical basis for selflessness and other-concern, by pointing to an extended and ultimately empty conception of the dehā that is intricately interconnected with all of nature. Very important, because fear of death can weaken you when you most need your strength to fight off the diseaseFinally, the Gītā’s virtue theory shows how the sage is the culmination of a long process of training and what constitutes such training, in a way that completes its ethics. Nonsense! Some kids attain that moksha which eludes the greybeards. What's more, this can happen instantaneously even in Grace denying sects like JainismYet, we might wonder if we have an ethical theory here since ethical theories apply to agents, and in the final analysis, the sage can hardly be described as an ethical agent if in fact action is nothing but strands acting on strands. Why not? There could be a supervenience relationship and the action of the agent (pramana) is of an epistemological kind in recognising this to be the case. Perhaps recalling something else that Mill says might be useful here: that utilitarianism (and hence consequentialism) is essentially concerned with the assessment of actions and not of agency (Utilitarianism, 18). Mill's theory of responsibility has salience here.  Like Moh Tzu's it vitiates his project because it would justify 'noble lies' like indoctrinating people to fear imaginary punishments in an imaginary Hell But this can hardly be an ultimately satisfactory answer unless of course the agent is ultimately irrelevant, as is the case for the Gītā. The Gita is therapeutic. Only the agent matters. It is philosophic in that it is a concrete model for what we believe to be correct solution an open problem in Maths. Thus it can provide 'normative reasons'
The Gītā’s ethical syncretism captures something true about the ethical dimensions of our lives: that good action involves deontological, consequential and virtue-centric aspects. On the contrary, the Gita captures the truth that Pundits talking high falutin' nonsense are wasting their breath.  On the other hand, someone who takes the trouble to understand you when you are mentally ill and who does everything in his power to catalyse a salutary metanoia is well advised to use 'zero knowledge proofs' rather than indoctrinate you in whatever bogus theory he is using. The alternative is, like Winnicott treating Masud Khan, you turn your junkie into a pusher of your product. Moreover, implicit in the text is the view that these aspects may be combined in the moral or dhārmic life, in ways that I hope I have shown. In the main, though, the Gītā makes clear that the moral life needs to be contextualized in relation to mokṣa; where mokṣa, for the first time in the orthodox tradition at least, is consistently conceived as directly available to all. Nonsense! The carter may have attained Moksha- as in the Chandogya- or it may be a woman or a butcher.  Some have the capacity or willingness to pass on the gift. Others don't or won't because it is strictly worthless which is why Vaishnavs pray not to be Liberated but to be reborn endlessly to serve the Lord in the form of 'Daridra Narayan'- the God within us who is lonely and poor.