Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Political Argumentation

By Irmtraud N. Gallhofer; Willem E. Saris | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
War with Serbia or Not: The Initiation of World War I, July 1914

This chapter presents a case study of arguments of members of the Austro- Hungarian Common Council of Ministers on whether or not to declare war on Serbia following the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne and his wife at Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, on June 28, 1914.

It is impossible to present here the full documents, since that would take too much space. For an example of such a text we refer to Chapter 3. In this chapter, the arguments of individual decision-makers will be presented in chronological order and analyzed, using the approach discussed in Chapter 3. After this analysis, each decision tree is transformed into a decision table, that is, that the descriptions of the decision problems will be presented in decision tables, as discussed in Chapter 3. In none of the arguments discussed in this chapter was the decision rule mentioned, nor the fact that the relevant condition was fullfilled in order to derive the conclusion. As we have mentioned before, this means either that our approach is completely wrong or that these rules are so obvious to both the speaker and the audience that they do not consider it important to mention them. If the latter is the case, we should be able to identify these obvious decision rules. In Chapters 2 and 3, it was suggested that the amount of information given in the problem description could be used as an indication of what class of rules should be applied. We will follow this procedure by first determining the class of the problem using the information on the utilities and probabilities, and then we will test the rules of this class to see if one or more of these rules can predict the choice of the decision-maker. If one rule of such a class of decision problems can predict the choice, we think that we have identified the complete argumentation of the decision-maker. This survey will show that in all individual arguments, at least one of the suggested decision rules could predict the choice mentioned by the decision-maker. This suggests that these simple decision rules probably are obvious to the speaker and the audience and that we probably have found the

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