!?

Zwichenzug

an in-between move

Cool kids read The Bellman.

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Don't read this blog!

I mean, thanks for dropping by my little corner of the blogospheric backwaters, but the blog you should be reading is The Bellman. The stuff I post there is much, much less likely to be imbued with dormitive powers.

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Zwischenzug
[German, from zwischen, intermediate + zug, move

n.
Literally an "in-between move". A move in a tactical sequence is called a zwischenzug* when it does not relate directly to the tactical motif in operation. |source|


image copyright TWIC

From this position, black played a zwischenzug: 19…d5
Adams-Kasparov
(Linares 2002, 1-0)

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about your blogger

David Rowland studies philosophy at the University of Illinois - Urbana / Champaign, where he's an active member of the Graduate Employees Organization. He used to play a lot of chess, but wasn't all that good. He has a blog. And email.

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recent

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Parsing Skepticus
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Skepticus clarifies the question
Statement by the President
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some folks I know

Mark Dilley
a daily dose of architecture
dailysoy
Hannah
funferal
Safety Neal
eripsa
January Girl
mimi jingcha
bleen
Rambleman
Washburn
Hop, Skip, Jump
E
ambivalent imbroglio
Brooke & Lian

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some blogs I read

strip mining for whimsy
It's Matt's World
School of Blog
Saheli
Fall of the State
Dru Blood
Echidne of the Snakes
Colossal Waste of Bandwidth
Running from the Thought Police
Bionic Octopus

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some philosoblogs

E.G.
Philosoraptor
Left2Right
Fake Barn Country
Freiheit und Wissen

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some labor blogs

Confined Space
Unions-Firms-Markets
Working Life
CGEU
Dispatches From the Trenches
Labor Blog
LaborProf
Eric Lee

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some A-list blogs

This Modern World
Discourse.net
Matthew Yglesias
pandagon
Andrew Sullivan
Political Animal
Majikthise
DeLong
The Volokh Conspiracy

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some other links

Rule 33
Dictionary.com
This Week in Chess
Baseball-Reference.com
War Nerd
National Priorities Project
Bible Gateway
Internet Archive
maxdesign
A Weekly Dose of Architecture
Orsinal: Morning Sunshine
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
NegativWorldWideWebland
Safety Sign Builder
Get Your War On

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some philosoblogging

Six views about reasons
Seidman on reflection and rationality
And another thing
Aspirin
Tiffany's argument for strong internalism
Internalism v. Externalism
What do internalists believe anyway?
Rationalism and internalism
The experimental method in philosophy
Advertising to children
On moral skepticism
A linguistic argument
Whorf
More on Williams
Williams on reasons
General and particular
Normativity and morality
Political intuitions
What it is, what it was, and what it shall be
Objectivity and morality
Thinking revolution
Factoid
Abortion and coercion
Moore on torture
On the phenomenology of deliberation
Even more Deliberation Day
more Deliberation Day
Deliberation Day run-down
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge, cont.
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge
Every shepherd is an abomination
Droppin' H-bombs
ad hominem

Saturday, September 24, 2005

 

eripsa on games

In comments to this post eripsa proposed that two conditions must be satisfied in order for participation in an activity to count as playing a game. The first of these is that there must be "rules and purposes" which "set out the limits of the [activity]." The second is that those rules and purposes must leave room for what eripsa calls play. In a subsequent comment, eripsa defined 'play' as "the freedom of an agent to use whatever means at his disposal within the constraints of the rules to achieve some ends."[1]

As an aside, it might be worth saying something, briefly, about the project of coming up with a definition here. I'm certainly not a fan of the methodology of conceptual analysis and neither, I think, is eripsa. So neither of us thinks that there is, in some strong objective sense, a right answer to the question of what a game must be. There is, however, a widespread social practice of playing games, a practice that is connected in certain deep ways to issues that both eripsa and I are interested in. In eripsa's case, this interest seems to stem from a somewhat idiosyncratic understanding of the Turing Test mixed with a preoccupation with the question of the possibility of machine consciousness. For myself, the interest lies in the fact that the practice of playing games is normatively rich in ways that seem to shed light on the nature of moral reasoning. The hope is that getting straight about the content of the practice will help clarify other things we wish to say.


The introduction of the play requirement is welcome, from my point of view, in part because it gives voice to the intuition that rote rule followers aren't really participants in games. The paradigmatic example here is the computer which follows a rigid procedure in such a way that the computer's behavior could conceivably mirror that of a game player. Whatever we say about more advanced machines, I would like to be able to say that the rigid machine is not a game player.

A more compelling argument for the play requirement, however, would go beyond my intuitions in what are, admittedly, disputed cases. Such an argument might begin with the thought that the play requirement allows us to narrow a definition which would otherwise be overly broad. It seems, for example, that assembling a piece of furniture from IKEA is a rule governed activity, but we would not wish to say that it is a game. Similarly, a rigid computer follows rules when executing any program, and whatever we say about the case where that computer behaves in a game player like fashion, we won't want to say that the rigid computer is always playing a game.

It remains somewhat unclear, to me at least, what the status of the conditions eripsa articulates is meant to be. If he means them to be sufficient as well as necessary, then activities like driving and filing taxes are problematic, since each seems to satisfy the play condition. Eripsa downplays this consequence, writing that "the creative accountant, the skilled driver, can take these constrainted activities and play within their bounds." This seems to suggest that such activities are only sometimes games. But, first, driving seems to be an activity that always requires play in the relevant sense. And, second, the proposed condition made reference to "leaving room for play" and if one can sometimes play, then room must have been left.

One way to respond here is to go with the Grasshopper in saying that all human activities are games. It seems, though, that even if the Grasshopper's thesis is true, this should come as some sort of surprise and require considerable argument, rather than falling out of our definition of games. Another possible response is to admit that the conditions offered are necessary but not sufficient. This response is not incorrect, but clearly leaves work to be done. eripsa will either need to provide another condition which completes the definitional project or explain why understanding the play requirement as a merely sufficient condition is adequate for his purposes.

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1 Since play requires that the agent act with "an eye towards the end", I think it's fair to say that the definition endorsed by eripsa is compatible with both of the requirements for justification-within-a-game which I articulated a few days ago.



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