• Steven J. Brams


Since the analysis in this book would seem far removed from work in any of the standard disciplines, I would like, in this introduction, to suggest some linkages that might not be apparent at first glance. This not only serves the purpose of establishing ties to relevant research in different fields but also helps to embed the present work in a research tradition, somewhat in eclipse, that I think still deserves to be part of the intellectual landscape.


Game Theory Human Intelligence Human Player Imitation Game Sequential Play 
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  1. 1.
    In 1940 Albert Einstein said, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” [Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), p. 28], though the context of this statement suggests that by “religion” Einstein had in mind an abiding faith in the order of the universe rather than a personal God, or the activities associated with organized religions today. This viewpoint is supported by his statement, “When I am evaluating a theory, I ask myself, if I were God, would I have made the universe in that way?” [Some Strangeness in the Proportion: A Centennial Symposium to Celebrate the Achievements of Albert Einstein, ed. Harry Woolf (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1980), p. 476.]Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A. M. Turing, Computing machinery and human intelligence, Mind 59, 236 (October 1950), 433–460. For collections of recent views and approaches to this problem, see Mind Design: Philosophy, Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, ed. John Haugeland (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1981); and The Minds I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul, ed. Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett (New York: Basic, 1981). For the apostate view that ancient man’s relationship with God (or gods) might have involved direct communication with Him (or them), physiologically based, within the brain itself, see Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The problem may be compounded if the superior being is a sentient person. Consider, for example, John von Neumann (1903–1957), the great twentieth-century mathematician and cofounder, with economist Oskar Morgenstern (1902–1977), of game theory: “The story used to be told about him [von Neumann] in Princeton that while he was indeed a demi-god he had made a detailed study of humans and could imitate them perfectly.” [Herman Goldstine, The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972), p. 176.]Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Steven J. Brams, Biblical Games: A Strategic Analysis of Stories in the Old Testament (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See, for example, the articles in The Logic of God: Theology and Verification, ed. Malcolm L. Diamond and Thomas V. Litzenburg, Jr. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1975); and Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, ed. Steven J. Cahn and David Shatz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). As an introduction to the field, I would commend Leszek Kolakowski, Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), which is both a slightly irreverent intellectual history and a provocative theoretical synthesis of “God, the Devil, Sin and other Worries of the so-called Philosophy of Religion.” Kolakowski takes the position, with which I concur, that “God is not and cannot be an empirical hypothesis ... if the word ‘hypothesis’ retains its usual sense” (p. 90). That is why “no one has ever heard of God’s existence being discussed at conferences of physicists ... as science offers no conceptual tools with which to tackle the problem” (p. 67).Google Scholar
  6. My own view is that the conceptualization of a superior being is an entirely different matter from that of the empirical testing and verification of a superior being, such as an extraterrestrial intelligence. We can move ahead on the conceptual issues even if science holds out little hope at this time for corroborating our theoretical analysis. Just as theoretical analysis has established that there are certain kinds of problems a computer can never solve, I shall argue in the end that there are certain kinds of limits to our ability to ascertain the “decidability” of superior beings, as I conceptualize them, which I think is an important result even if it has no empirical interpretation that would allow it to be tested scientifically. Again, my purpose is to offer a philosophical perspective or point of view, not a scientific theory, my use of mathematics notwithstanding.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Martin Buber, I and Thou, 2nd Ed., translated by Ronald Gregor Smith (New York: Scribner’s, 1958), Postscript, p. 135; see also Emil L. Fackenheim, An outline of modern Jewish theology, in Faith and Reason: Essays in Judaism, ed. Robert Gordis and Ruth B. Waxman (New York: KTAV, 1973), pp. 211–220; and Abraham Kaplan, The Jewish argument with God, Commentary 70 (October 1980), 43–47, for more on the theology of Judaism. Albert Einstein had this to say about a personal God: “The doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been established.” [Phillip Frank, Einstein: His Life and Times (New York: Knopf, 1947), p. 285.] It is not evident to me whether Einstein, in using the phrase “has not yet been established,” was at all sanguine that science might eventually say more.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Quoted in Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh, The Mathematical Experience (Boston: Birkhäuser, 1980), p. 54. Another mathematician has echoed this sentiment in a recent thoughtful book on infinity and its far-reaching ramifications:... It is important to realize that such traditional questions as “Can we know the Absolute?,” “Is Reality One or Many?,” or “What is Truth?” are real questions that can be investigated in an exact way. An unfortunate effect of the early logical positivism was that for many years professional philosophers tended to dismiss the ultimate metaphysical questions as woolly at best and meaningless at worst.... These [big] questions, far from being meaningless, can lead to good and exciting mathematical philosophy of the highest order. [Rudy Rucker, Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite (Boston: Birkhäuser, 1982), p. 218.]Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven J. Brams
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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