Different Race: Different Logic?

Story Forum
This is a long question, and context is important. Please read the entire post before responding.

I am interested, at some point, in submitting a loose treatise of the different economic systems, and habits in thinking of the different races, branching off of some of my earlier assumptions regarding Night Elven and Orcish habits with regard to how they use resources. I am faced however, with one last major obstacle.

In many of my arguments, I employ basic tenets of economics, and recently, and to a lesser extent, concepts which have evolved from common law. One undying criticism of this method is that economics do not apply to a fantasy world, making it therefore absurd to use the tools afforded by economics to interpret and predict actions, causes, and consequences in regard to Azeroth.

Common law is easier to defend, because I can easily trace back the logic. Revisiting a previous argument: a reasonable person would easily conclude, with the facts provided that a bunch of orcs appearing to be Horde are agents of the Horde, and that therefore their actions as individual actors are seen as actions of the Horde. Therefore, if the Horde learns that the individuals acting upon their behalf perform a particular action, and does act to prevent, correct, or express regret regarding these actions, then the Horde may be seen as consenting to those actions, and accepting them as its own. The legal shorthand for this is "ratification", and it has been attacked not on the merits of its logic, but on the term's real world origin.

The criticism of economics is different but similar. Economics itself rests upon two assumptions:

1. Resources are scarce
2. Those participating in the system act in their rational self interest.

The first constraint I believe is unassailable in relation to Azeroth. The second, however, often comes under scrutiny. I want to briefly touch on the unacceptable criticisms regarding the second constraint before I move on to the question of polylogism, and whether or not it exists on Azeroth.

Unacceptable Objections to the Second Constraint
People do not always act selfishly:
When critics address the concept of self interest, I find that they make the fundamental mistake in assuming that self interest can be defined by the pursuit of material ends, while quietly ignoring that "higher" goals and non-material ends also must be figured into human action. In acting, a person weighs different ends, material, and non-material, and assigns subjective value to them. If the non-material end outweighs the material end, and the individual acts in that regard, the individual still acts in congruence with his or her goals, and can not be said to be acting outside of their own interests.

People do not always act rationally
As I have stated before, a person weighs different ends, and assigns subjective value to them. Whether they act in one way or another is driven by a reason, a rationale. It doesn't come out of the clear blue sky. Critics may persist by pointing to emotion, but emotion merely affects the valuations that a person assigns to the ends, not to the process of selecting the end that, in the mind of the acting person, is better. Even under the stress of emotion, people still do things for a reason, and do what they believe is the best course of action, even if others may not understand or agree with it.


With the discussion of the unacceptable objections over, we come to the only one that I can see as potentially valid. As some of you may have guessed, I'm borrowing heavily from the work of Ludwig von Mises, and here I present his three prerequisites of human action:

1. The actor wants a more satisfactory state of affairs, or is to be said to be in a state of uneasement regarding the current one. Otherwise they would be content and therefore have no reason to act.
2. The actor can imagine a more satisfactory state of affairs.
3. The actor believes that through action, he or she can remove or alleviate the state of uneasement.

In choosing the action, the person weighs alternatives and, based on the subjective valuations they have placed on the imagined ends, chooses the best among them.

Von Mises did assert that the doctrines of Human Action cannot be applied to non humans, but that depends on the assumption that a non human would have a different logical structure than a human. It is here that I ask, with every bit of the context that I have provided, if there is a polylogism on Azeroth. Can we confirm that particular races on Azeroth have different logical structures than humans in the real world? Is there, for example, a variation in the logical structures of Orcs which would cause them to act if they were completely content? Would a Night Elf select the worst of the possible alternatives based on her subjective valuation of each one? Would a Forsaken do something even if they believed that their action would have no effect at all to their current state of uneasement?

Even if you don't answer, thank you for reading through this very long question. I apologize for its length, its wordiness, and the overly pedantic tone that I can already tell is dripping through it.
Lets see if I boiled this down properly:

You want to analyze how the different races think and wish to see if their logic differs from the normal real life humans in order to understand the choices they make.

A normal real life human would only act to make things better and that being content would cause them to do nothing because they feel fine and cannot improve their situation in any way.

Do the races of warcraft, therefore, ever act in ways that violate only acting to cause ones position or personal state to improve?
If I do understand what you are asking, based on my post above, then no there is no difference in logic between real life humans and the races in the game.

I am pretty sure that we have tons of evidence of all the races acting in what is their best interest, or what they perceive to be their best interest. The better question to ask, then, is what exactly does each race value above others. Orcs value strength, fighting prowess, decisiveness, and honor (the shamanistic sect of the orcs, or the more spiritual ones, may add more to this list.) Those who cannot fight are relegated to a lesser standing within society. Those who are honorable, strong, and are great warriors are revered and given higher standing within society. An orc, then, would work towards becoming a strong warrior with great honor and all actions that can lead one to that end is the logical one to take.

To be honest, this post just kinda confuses me, and its gonna bother me to know if I understand you or not.
I'm sorry OP, but your post hurt my head from reading the first few lines... >.<

I apologize for not giving a proper response. I tried, but it hurt.
To be honest, this post just kinda confuses me, and its gonna bother me to know if I understand you or not.


No, I think you got it, and my apologies for the confusion.
They don't operate in their rational self interest.

They operate in Blizzard's interest, by that, I mean they act in whatever manner is conducive to Blizzard's plot.
Hmmm, an interesting question. After reading through your post, I think your asking what each race thinks will help better itself, and what actions and measures it can take to improve itself and any other parties they have an alliance with. I also think your asking if this could open the way for large scale economic endeavors, like on Earth.

I believe you once explained that you were an economist in RL, so I'm not going to question your logic, but I'm studying wildlife biology and biochemistry right now, and I think that some anthropology is necessary right now.

Your asking if the races in game would work in their best interest, which is a natural tenant of any species, and of evolution. There is however, a matter of how they go about this. I would not equate all the races in game DIRECTLY to human logic and culture. I would take the sub-culture that they are based off of (we have the threads out there) and I would cross them with a common human creature that also reflects those qualities. This way, you can see more of the way the species works. Let's take Orcs.

We know that they are based off of proud warrior tribes and their culture seems to have a neo-Mongol Empire theme. They're actual actions, and very possibly the way they think however, is equitable to ants. I'm not insulting their IQ, just think about it. In an ant pile, there are the warrior ants, which are held above the rest, and then there are the worker ants, which are the most expendable, yet the most necessary. This, I believe, is very similar to the Orcs treatment of peons and warriors. The way they choose a warchief is also a cross between the two. The queen (Thrall) passes on her(his) power to another queen (Garrosh) but then must leave, or die. Now that's not exactly equitable, but very close in the crossing.

So my final answer is that the races of Azeroth, even the humans in Azeroth, have different mental subsets than the humans in RL. Dwarves, gnomes, and humans are all descended from computers! We learned from the Mekkatorque's short story that gnomes couldn't conceive a standing army, something human nations have always had. I would try and figure out how each of their minds work, before figuring out how their economies could work.
They don't operate in their rational self interest.

They operate in Blizzard's interest, by that, I mean they act in whatever manner is conducive to Blizzard's plot.

Basically, this is how any work of fiction operates, especially in the case of the persistent world in an mmo.

The actions which drive various factions and individuals may seem to correspond to a wholly alien logic, but that's because they're teleologically driven. Blizzard determines a desired outcome to a particular story or plot, then sets out to control the actions of those actors so as to achieve their desired outcome.

In the case of a persistent world like Azeroth, it may happen that the actions most conducive to achieving a specific result flies in the face of previously established reason or philosophy. Which may mean a character is portrayed inconsistently or as behaving irrationally.

Further, since the writing team is likely not composed of economists, it is very possible that the results of any given scenario do not line up with the rational expected outcome, since it might clash with the desired outcome.

Personally, that's why I've been so vocal in opposing your attempts at bringing an economic rationale to WoW.
Basically, this is how any work of fiction operates, especially in the case of the persistent world in an mmo.

The actions which drive various factions and individuals may seem to correspond to a wholly alien logic, but that's because they're teleologically driven. Blizzard determines a desired outcome to a particular story or plot, then sets out to control the actions of those actors so as to achieve their desired outcome.

In the case of a persistent world like Azeroth, it may happen that the actions most conducive to achieving a specific result flies in the face of previously established reason or philosophy. Which may mean a character is portrayed inconsistently or as behaving irrationally.

Further, since the writing team is likely not composed of economists, it is very possible that the results of any given scenario do not line up with the rational expected outcome, since it might clash with the desired outcome.

Personally, that's why I've been so vocal in opposing your attempts at bringing an economic rationale to WoW.


I just don't understand why the rational outcome is not coinciding with the desired outcome? The Alliance couldn't roflstomp the horde that badly, could they? And just little things, like Forsaken joining the horde, and the night elves joining the alliance, it makes no sense with the standing lore at the time.
OP: For the purposes of logic, the diffrent playable races of Azeroth seem to share the same logic while having diffrent cultural norms. They don't seem to differ from the various cultures of humanity, greatly. They aren't too "alien" to understand.
We know that they are based off of proud warrior tribes and their culture seems to have a neo-Mongol Empire theme. They're actual actions, and very possibly the way they think however, is equitable to ants. I'm not insulting their IQ, just think about it. In an ant pile, there are the warrior ants, which are held above the rest, and then there are the worker ants, which are the most expendable, yet the most necessary. This, I believe, is very similar to the Orcs treatment of peons and warriors. The way they choose a warchief is also a cross between the two. The queen (Thrall) passes on her(his) power to another queen (Garrosh) but then must leave, or die. Now that's not exactly equitable, but very close in the crossing.


Human cultures have had slaves before, and when we look at most peons, it's hard to find one that is content with their state of being. Peons are lazy, they complain about the work they do, and in some cases they will revolt against their overseers. While they aren't very smart, it's clear that they weigh alternatives as well.

When we get into this discussion, it is important as well not to confuse a difference in incentives with a difference in logic. A Night Elf, for example, holds much higher reverence for nature than a human would, but that doesn't mean that the method of weighing alternatives and the prerequisites to action are the same.

As to Blizzard's influence, it is true, they are what moves the prime mover in this case, but even the writers have to think of a motive for the actions. I can criticize and levy moral critiques at that motive, but the fact that character X saw outcome Y as the superior outcome in their own subjective valuation, and then acted upon that is something I cannot dispute. I do believe though, that it isn't unreasonable to question, suggest, or predict what the writers have given us. Otherwise, what is the point of the story forum in the first place?

I believe you once explained that you were an economist in RL


Eh, taking a few economics classes and reading a few economic treatises doesn't make me an economist. I still see my knowledge as rudimentary and basic. I specialize in accounting.
Basically, this is how any work of fiction operates, especially in the case of the persistent world in an mmo.

The actions which drive various factions and individuals may seem to correspond to a wholly alien logic, but that's because they're teleologically driven. Blizzard determines a desired outcome to a particular story or plot, then sets out to control the actions of those actors so as to achieve their desired outcome.

In the case of a persistent world like Azeroth, it may happen that the actions most conducive to achieving a specific result flies in the face of previously established reason or philosophy. Which may mean a character is portrayed inconsistently or as behaving irrationally.

Further, since the writing team is likely not composed of economists, it is very possible that the results of any given scenario do not line up with the rational expected outcome, since it might clash with the desired outcome.

Personally, that's why I've been so vocal in opposing your attempts at bringing an economic rationale to WoW.


I just don't understand why the rational outcome is not coinciding with the desired outcome? The Alliance couldn't roflstomp the horde that badly, could they? And just little things, like Forsaken joining the horde, and the night elves joining the alliance, it makes no sense with the standing lore at the time.


Only, there were reasons given or implied. The Night Elves joined the Alliance because the Horde were treating them like garbage even after the war and because they felt that they could no longer ignore the rest of the world. The Forsaken joined the Horde because they knew that without support, they were doomed. Whether you agree with or understand these reasons, they remain reasons, which support a rational decision. In this way, so long as the basic structures of logic are not changed, the desired outcome will usually coincide with a series of rational decisions (again, whether you agree with them, or understand them or not). I question the structure of the logic itself, and whether or not we have evidence to say that it differs from that of humans, and in which cases.
Human cultures have had slaves before, and when we look at most peons, it's hard to find one that is content with their state of being. Peons are lazy, they complain about the work they do, and in some cases they will revolt against their overseers. While they aren't very smart, it's clear that they weigh alternatives as well.

When we get into this discussion, it is important as well not to confuse a difference in incentives with a difference in logic. A Night Elf, for example, holds much higher reverence for nature than a human would, but that doesn't mean that the method of weighing alternatives and the prerequisites to action are the same.


I understand that they all work for their betterment, and that they have different cultures. I'm talking about how they actually perceive things, and on how that is different from a RL human. A Night Elf in WoW can conceive destroying nature, they just abhor it. An Orc cannot conceive an unstructured life. Even nomads, cultists, and hermits all appear to have some autonomy in their lives, serving under or over something until the end. Up until recently, gnomes could conceive fighting other gnomes, and can still barely conceive things like hand to hand combat, conquest, and turning against the standing government. Its why the gnomes you fight in Gnomergan are insane. They don't know what they are doing, as the starting quests showed.

Also, by conceive I mean being actually be to comprehend it. Maybe thats a better word: comprehend.



06/20/2011 12:03 PMPosted by Kyalin
Only, there were reasons given or implied. The Night Elves joined the Alliance because the Horde were treating them like garbage even after the war and because they felt that they could no longer ignore the rest of the world. The Forsaken joined the Horde because they knew that without support, they were doomed. Whether you agree with or understand these reasons, they remain reasons, which support a rational decision. In this way, so long as the basic structures of logic are not changed, the desired outcome will usually coincide with a series of rational decisions (again, whether you agree with them, or understand them or not). I question the structure of the logic itself, and whether or not we have evidence to say that it differs from that of humans, and in which cases.


I understand them now, but it feels more like gameplay vs, lore again. The Night Elves were supposed to be an independent nation that was very powerful, and the Forsaken were supposed to be all of Lorderan's undead in revolt. We took them down a huge notch when WoW came out. Still, I understand, I just don't get why the finished product has to contradict standing lore, when you could simply take it the way the story was flowing.


I understand that they all work for their betterment, and that they have different cultures. I'm talking about how they actually perceive things, and on how that is different from a RL human. A Night Elf in WoW can conceive destroying nature, they just abhor it. An Orc cannot conceive an unstructured life. Even nomads, cultists, and hermits all appear to have some autonomy in their lives, serving under or over something until the end. Up until recently, gnomes could conceive fighting other gnomes, and can still barely conceive things like hand to hand combat, conquest, and turning against the standing government. Its why the gnomes you fight in Gnomergan are insane. They don't know what they are doing, as the starting quests showed.

Also, by conceive I mean being actually be to comprehend it. Maybe thats a better word: comprehend.


The argument concerning how different races and cultures arrange, and assign values to a set of alternatives is an entirely different discussion, one which I hope to address in another post. This question is merely asking if the logical structure is the same, not if the subjective valuation is the same (which it very plainly isn't).
Kellick put it exactly as I would have were I even remotely eloquent.

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