The soldier's dilemma: using decision theory to explain American War crimes
Stitt, Orrin G.
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This project explores identity modeling as an observable and quantifiable indicator of the rational foundations of apparently inconsistent behavior. A model of rational choice is presented in which behavior is the product of (a) feasible alternatives, (b) available information (c) ethical identity, and (d) social setting - all of which are subject to change as the given situation is played out. This model is developed and then applied in two cases. The first is the movie Under Suspicion, tracing the decisions of Henry Hearst, the prime suspect in a murder case. The second is the account of the Tiger Platoon, a special operations unit during the Vietnam War - documented in the book Tiger Force. The model has good explanatory power for understanding apparently inconsistent and irrational behavior. To this end, rational choice models are useful in understanding human behavior, especially in stressful environments such as police interrogations and combat. This study is a contribution to a research agenda that aims first to understand criminal behavior in wartime, and ultimately to identify means to prevent it.
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