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Political Economy Research Group PhD lecture series: probabilistic political economy

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Time: 10.00am - 11.45am
Venue: Room 0114, Main Building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE
Price: free
Speaker(s): Dr Julian Wells, Kingston University

Political Economy Research Group PhD lecture series: probabilistic political economy

This lecture is part of the PhD lecture series co-organised by the University of Greenwich and Kingston University.

Download the full programme (PDF).

Current mainstream economics has two core ontological commitments and two methodological ones. The ontological commitments are general equilibrium and the efficacy of market economies, and the methodological ones are that agents are rational maximisers and a single representative agent suffices for building useful models.

Econophysics, and the related field of complexity theory, subvert the first and last of these, and as a result are associated with heterodoxy. However, heterodoxy has ambiguous connotations in relation to economic theory. On the one hand it simply means that the ideas in question have not yet become orthodox, not yet been absorbed into the mainstream. On the other, it suggests an aura of social and political critique, with the insinuation that orthodox theory is part of an ideological defence of the status quo.

While the first of these meanings is certainly the case for these two fields, this is not – as such – a reason to suppose that they may not become so absorbed. Nor is there any evidence that their best-known exponents have any particular agenda beyond amelioration of the current social and economic system. Moreover, almost any idea can be vulgarised so as to be consistent with acceptance of capitalist order.

Thus the extent to which econophysics and complexity are essentially heterodox in the second sense is an open question, to which the final answer must be given by history. Pending that judgement, this lecture will demonstrate that Marx, and marxists, are precursors and pioneers of econophysics and complexity.

Core reading (in the order given here)

  • Wells, Julian (2013) ‘Of Fat Cats and Fat Tails: From the Financial Crisis to the "New" Probabilistic Marxism', Research in Political Economy, 28, pp. 197-228.
  • Wright, Ian (2005) ‘The Social Architecture of Capitalism', Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 346, pp. 589-620.
  • Farjoun, Emmanuel, and Moshé Machover (1983) Laws of Chaos: a Probabilistic Approach to Political Economy, Verso: London.
  • Cottrell, Allin F., Paul Cockshott, Gregory J. Michaelson, Ian P. Wright, and Victor Yakovenko (2009) Classical Econophysics, Routledge: Abingdon.
  • Beinhocker, Eric D. (2007) The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics, Random House Business: London.

All welcome.

For further information about this event:

Contact: Rafael Wildauer
Email: R.Wildauer@kingston.ac.uk

Directions

Directions to Room 0114, Main Building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE:

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