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Exploring a link between the Science of Complexity and the Libertarian Philosophy.

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Heath Robertson Posted: Tue, Jul 13 2010 5:01 PM

I have recently read two books on the science of complexity (listed below).  It seems to me that there is a significant link between the findings of scientists in regard to complex systems and the Libertarian Philosophy.  Individual elements operating from a set of relatively simple rules develop extremely complex and adaptable systems.  The world and universe operate off of the principles described by this science.  It seems to me that there would be a great advantage to explaining a political philosophy in terms of a supporting science.  At any rate it would be, and is, a sharp contrast to the emotionally charged, logistically deflated nature of the dominate political philosophies of today.

Complexity: a guided tour - By Melanie Mitchell
The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life - Len Fisher

Santa Fe Institute: Complexity Research -
Complex Systems -
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Here is a good article that illustrates some of the applications of the Science of Complexity in other fields.

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The only reservation I have with this is the notion that complexity can be modeled.

Hayek has done scholarship close to this field.

Welcome to the community btw.

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I am not sure I completely understand what you mean by “complexity can be modeled”.  I will preface my next statements with, I am not extremely well versed in either field, but I can see validity in both.  I am simply connecting dots in my limited knowledge and perspective.  

After reading the first few paragraphs of the "The Use of Knowledge in Society" I think you are suggesting trying to predict or plan (model) a system is essentially to destroy any chance of having it.  Hayek’s statement “ If we possess all the relevant information...”  eludes to the fact that we can never possess all the relevant information because it is all relevant.  In order to use it in a predictive manner we would have to recreate the entire known universe, observe it as a test case, and then make a prediction of how ours would/should work.  Scientists are quite amazing but I am not quite sure they have reached the level of creationists just yet.

I would say that the science of complexity is essentially modeling.  By producing models based on simple constructs it is possible to produce systems that emulate those in the natural world, therefor allowing us to see how complex systems adapt and evolve without an over arching plan.  The correlation that I was trying to make was not one of prediction (developing a plan) but validation. 
Using the simple construct of individual liberties and the moral principal of self-ownership, these simple rules can produce a human political system that emulates the natural processes that already exist.  Or maybe it would be better stated that the principals of liberty have arisen naturally and allowing a system to develop on these principles will ensure stability and adaptability in the long term because they are apart of the natural system.  
The truth of the matter is I am brainstorming to increase my understanding, which currently could be equated to “a hill of beans”.  I appreciate your response.


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boniek replied on Fri, Jul 16 2010 8:18 AM

This is relevant to my interests. Thanks! :)

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If by modeling you mean after-the-fact, than sure. At that point much of the complexity is historical but if you mean prediction modeling within a certain margin of error than your entering a pipe dream. Google Chaos Theory or more particulary the Butterfly Effect.


The butterfly effect is a metaphor that encapsulates the concept of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory; namely that small differences in the initial condition of a dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system. Although this may appear to be an esoteric and unusual behavior, it is exhibited by very simple systems: for example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill might roll into any of several valleys depending on slight differences in initial position. The butterfly effect is a common trope in fiction when presenting scenarios involving time travel and with "what if" scenarios where one storyline diverges at the moment of a seemingly minor event resulting in two significantly different outcomes.

Read until you have something to write...Write until you have nothing to write...when you have nothing to write, until you have something to write...Jeremiah 

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MaikU replied on Fri, Jul 16 2010 9:25 AM

Chaos Theory is no problem for hardcore determinists :D

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(english is not my native language, sorry for grammar.)

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Wibee replied on Sat, Jul 17 2010 7:09 PM


Sorry, I just had to.  It sounds very interesting indeed.  

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