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Tag: Epistemology of intelligence

Dr. James Bruce | Intelligence Analysis – Past, Present and Future | Intelligence & Interview N.42 | Giangiuseppe Pili

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I’m honored, delighted, and humbled by all the knowledge shared in this interview. Like many of us, I first James Bruce in his writing, from RAND reports to book chapters and papers. When I contacted him, I wanted to share my gratefulness for his seminal work on the epistemology of intelligence, because of my long-lasting interest in that almost esoteric (but crucial, I believe) topic. We had a deep conversation on intelligence analysis, the intelligence profession, and the conceptual understanding of intelligence from that moment on. As in all the best and deep conversations, there is a margin for different opinions, boosting further insights and deep thoughts. There will be so much reflection to be awed for all of our readers who will read the interview. Dr. Bruce has an outstanding position for covering so many topics at such a detailed level to be difficult to be matched, impossible to surpass. Although I try to be as grateful as I can be to all who enriched my knowledge, I can only publicly reinforce my deep appreciation for James Bruce’s interview, knowledge, experience, and all the thoughts he put into his conversations. His work and thought should definitely be an example, an inspiration for younger scholars and, more broadly, all who think human knowledge is crucial for the progress of civilization and meaning. In this very respect, James Bruce is absolutely a deep thinker. These words must be understood in the best way, as all our readers will immediately discover reading this interview. We covered crucial topics from intelligence analysis, its future as well as the epistemology of intelligence. It is then with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet; it is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, James: thank you!

1# Hi James Bruce, let’s start from the basics. How would you like to present yourself to our national and international readers?

Hello, Gian, and thank you for the opportunity to discuss analysis!  To start with a caveat:  These interview responses are my own personal views, and they do not reflect the positions of the Central Intelligence Agency, the US government, or the RAND Corporation.

I am a retired intelligence analyst with 24 years’ experience at CIA.  While there, I worked on a variety of substantive issues and also some methodological ones.  With Ph.D. in hand and 10 years’ teaching experience in academe when I entered the Agency, I still had much to learn on my path to becoming a professional analyst.

My early career focus was on the Soviet Union, and I published a very controversial (then classified) paper in 1983 on civil unrest in the USSR.  It described and successfully forecast growing political instability in the Soviet system due to a breakdown in the social contract between the governing Communist Party (CPSU) and the population that was growing increasingly restive with the regime’s authoritarianism and unfulfilled promises.  That quantitative study of demonstrations, strikes, riots, and political violence revealed a tip-of-the-iceberg change afoot in the Soviet political culture across its 11 time zones that the KGB couldn’t curtail by force alone.  The collapse of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day in 1991 was seen by some as a US intelligence failure.  While that fateful day wasn’t specifically predicted, a few analysts had reported the early signs of imminent system failure and, by 1990, CIA had its demise pretty well in hand.  Gorbachev’s rule was becoming increasingly precarious.  Today Putin may be riding a similar tiger.

Kira Vrist Rønn | Epistemology & Intelligence Ethics | Intelligence & Interview N.20 | Dr Giangiuseppe Pili

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I’m tremendously excited to publish this wonderful interview with Kira Vrist Rønn, senior lecturer at University College Copenhagen. Professor Vrist Rønn published extensively about the philosophy of intelligence. Specifically, she worked on the epistemology of intelligence and intelligence ethics. These two topics are indeed the core of “Intelligence & Interview N.20”. Though practically oriented, the intelligence studies include an important and – I would add – fundamental theoretical component. Intelligence theory is indeed crucial to understand the practical aspects of the intelligence profession. Is objectivity possible in intelligence analysis? What is intelligence? Is intelligence ethics possible, or is it an unbearable oxymoron? Is intelligence an art or a science? To reply to all these questions, we need to bring philosophical concepts to clarify what intelligence is. Professor Vrist Rønn was a pioneer in this research, and she authored and edited several works (see below). Given my long-lasting research interest in both epistemology and ethics of intelligence, I can only be thrilled by publishing this thought-provoking interview. Recently, Intelligence & Interview N.19 already touched on the epistemology of intelligence. But that was a starter, also considering the different main topics of that issue. This interview goes deeper on the epistemology and ethics of intelligence. Then, it is with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet, it is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Kira: thank you!

Franck Bulinge | French Intelligence & CounterTerrorism Today | Intelligence & Interview N.19 | Dr Giangiuseppe Pili

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As we expand the number of Intelligence & Interview series quickly, we are working hard to bring as many different national experiences as possible. As I had personally stated several ways, Int & Int aims to boost a common and enlarged dialogue beyond the usual boundaries, bringing as many perspectives as possible. Considering how close France is to Italy geographically, culturally, and historically (for instance, my mother’s little town still remember the French revolution vividly – not a joke at all), it was my duty to bring the crucial French intelligence perspective. It was then natural to me to approach professor Franck Bulinge, an ex-practitioner, expert in intelligence analysis and disciplines, with a strong, solid grasp on France’s intelligence history and present. In addition, I was delighted to discover his publication in Italian (see below), edited by a common colleague, Giuseppe Gagliano & Cestudec – one of my first supporters in my research and who wrote two precious introductions to two books of mine. Finally, Professor Bulinge is also deeply involved in developing an epistemology of intelligence, recalling the lesson of Isaac Ben-Israel’s research (The Philosophy and Methodology of Intelligence) that deeply shaped the philosophical understanding of intelligence. Then, it is with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet, is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Franck: thank you!

1. Professor Franck Bulinge, let’s start from the basics. How would you like to present yourself to the International readers and Philosophical School (Scuola Filosofica)?

I am a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Information and Communication, specialized in information literacy. At the University of Toulon, I teach informational self-defense as well as intelligence analysis, critical thinking, management of crisis information, and last but not least, script writing for web series. I am a glider pilot, I love trekking and I live far from cities in the heart of Provence.

Toward a Philosophical Definition of Intelligence – International Journal of Intelligence, Security and Public Affairs

Giangiuseppe Pili, (2019), “Toward a Philosophical Definition of Intelligence“, The International Journal of Intelligence, Security, and Public Affairs, 21:2, 162-190, DOI: 10.1080/23800992.2019.1649113

It is with my great pleasure to announce my last issue in the International Journal of Intelligence, Security and Public Affairs!: Toward a philosophical definition of intelligence. This is my second paper in the journal and my third on the topic in a peer-reviewed journal (and a new one is coming, so keep in touch!). However, I am particularly proud of this scientific result, as far as the topic is one of the most relevant in the field, as it was defined by Mark Phythian and Peter Gill in one of their best papers. The two scholars stressed the importance of the definitional debate inside the intelligence studies literature. This paper tries to bring analytic philosophy to intelligence as state institution in order to give a new definition of intelligence. I want to thank two anonymous reviewers, who significantly helped me in improving the paper with their comments and suggestions.

What is intelligence? A short question, which is difficult to answer. In fact, there is no general agreement on the definition of intelligence. A good philosophical analysis starts with intuitions, which can be found in the literature. After the recollection of these intuitions and their discussion, it is necessary to add some rational justifications of them. I want to express a general definition of intelligence, whose formulation is indebted to a philosophical analytic approach that considers some different alternatives. Intelligence is a vague word and it has different meanings. In fact, the intelligence studies are so rich but they pose some particular philosophical problems. Philosophy defines complex and complicated words in a simple and coherent way. I want to defend a definition, which is philosophically consistent and meaningful for intelligence studies. Is this a good way to solve such a complex problem? As Ludwig Wittgenstein said: “The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have always known. Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language”.