Friday, July 31, 2009

On Being a Theorist

Theoretical Economists are like us. They have reductionist arguments that lets them focus on direct revelation mechanisms, they have revenue equivalence that lets them construct classes of problems, etc. Like theoretical computer scientists, they too preen themselves on their "difficult" math and construct mental hierarchies of researchers and results. And like us, they too angst about relevance. There is a great article by Ariel Rubinstein called Dilemma of Economist where he develops an economic model for Adam (of Eve fame), a delicious read, that describes the dilemma of models and applications, just dont read the ending first.



Anonymous proaonuiq said...

The fable of the social sciences:

Proposition 1: humans are animals, so they must follow the biological mandate: survive and reproduce ! That´s the biological constraint.

Proposition 2. humans are fairness-order-efficiency-freedom aware agents and change opinion (life evolves, mind transmutes).Does avalaible conceptions of rationality takes this psicological constraint into account ?

Propositions 3 (social structure and function): almost all humans actions are done according to institutional rules; institutions are sets of rules such that when executed by human agents produces a social product or output; institutions are not isolated, they are coupled or entangled: that is they use as input other institution outputs, and this way form institutional cycles. The structure and function of society is no more and no less that the analysis of institutional rules and the coupling of four institutional cycles(economical, reproduction, political and knowledge cycles).

Propositions 4 (social dynamics or history): institutional rules come in four types (from deepest rooted in the neuromental level to the more superficial):
--values (wich has to do with freedom)
--conventions (wich has to do with order: no matter right or left, when ordering the flow of matter (traffic system) only one direction !; no matter english, spanish or chinese: when ordering the flow of ideas, only one language!)
--laws (wich has to do with fairness or justice or reciprocity (Binmore) or symmetry),
--procedures (wich has to do with efficiency).
and every social institution embodies these 4 types of rules. Social dynamics (former philosophy of history) is no more and no less that the analysis of the change of institutional rules and the change of institutional cycle couplings. It happens that social changes has direction: more freedom, more fairness, more order and more efficiency. Look back !

Proposition 5: Every society (that is, 4 institutional cycles coupled in a certain way) is embedded, affects and is affected in/by an environment.

In conclusion the main problem of social sciences is: given every possible pair (environment, set of agents) find for each pair the set instructions for constructing a set of institutional rules and couplings of institutional cycles so that the institutional outputs satisfies the biological and psychological constraints of agents.

Can not this be modeled naturally by a well known logical formulae ? Does anyone know a better fable than this one for the peoples wich are starving in their environments ? Are we playing the games or discovering the code for the social level?

3:48 PM  

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