September 22, 2005

Economics and biology

Two recent pieces nicely illustrate the similarities of the economy and the biosphere. One of them compares the economy and ecosystems. The other compares the free market and evolution by natural selection. This is Russell Roberts of Cafe Hayek writing in The Wall Street Journal:
Rather than being like physics, economics is more like biology, or better, ecology. Too often the economy is viewed as an engine or some other linear set of relationships, where it is presumed that by pushing lever A, I can move object B. I would argue that the economy is better understood as an ecosystem, a complex system of interactions where order emerges rather than being imposed from above.
This is John Allen Paulos writing in The Guardian:
What would you think of someone who studied economic entities and their interactions in a modern free market economy and insisted that they were, despite a perfectly reasonable and empirically supported Smithian account of their development, the consequence of some all-powerful, detail-obsessed economic law-giver? You might deem such a person a conspiracy theorist.

And what would you think of someone who studied biological processes and organisms and insisted that they were, despite a perfectly reasonable and empirically supported Darwinian account of their development, the consequence of some all-powerful, detail-obsessed biological law-giver?

2 comments:

  1. Russell Roberts writes in Café Hayek, not in Marginal Revolution :). In any case, the articles are very good.

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