Tag Archives: Hayek

From Complexity to Construction to Intersecting Processes: Puzzles for Theoretical and Social Inquiry

Although stable systems may be extremely rare as a fraction of the complex ecological systems being sampled (as shown in the 1970s theoretical work of Robert May), they can be readily constructed over time by the addition of populations from a pool of populations or by elimination of populations from systems not at a steady state. The implications of such a constructionist perspective could challenge not only ecologists, but also theorists in all fields that make use of models without a process of construction over time of the complexity of the situation studied.

A paper to appear in the journal Ecological Complexity centers not so much on advancing this perspective, but on two consequent puzzles:
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Hayekian accounts rest on a self-contradictory assumption about natural selection

This post emerges from my puzzling over the overlap between Hayek’s neoliberal critique of attempts to model complexity well enough to make predictions and economic policy and my view that “knowledge, plans, and action [have to] be continually reassessed in response to developments — predicted and surprising alike” (as described in a 2011 post).

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Critiques of attempts to model complexity well enough to make predictions and policy

In December 2009, I heard Jeremy Walker relate developments over recent decades in ecology, economics, and security policy and connect them with the theories of the neo-liberal economist, Hayek, whose views underwrite minimizing government to allow private corporations to adapt to inevitable crises (Walker and Cooper 2011).  I’m still puzzling over the overlap between Hayek’s critique of attempts to model complexity well enough to make predictions and policy and my view that “knowledge, plans, and action [have to] be continually reassessed in response to developments — predicted and surprising alike” as stated in my personal website and elaborated in Unruly Complexity [U. Chicago 2005]).  The challenge is to explain why Hayekians are dangerously wrong and I’m not!

Reference

J. Walker & M. Cooper (2011). Genealogies of resilience: From systems ecology to the political economy of crisis adaptation Security Dialogue 42: 143-160