The Limits to Certainty

The Limits to Certainty

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I consider it a privilege to have been invited to write a preface for "The Limits to Certainty". It is however paradoxical that a theo- retical physicist be asked to write about a monograph dealing mainly with service economics. Notwithstanding, I am delighted to do so. Indeed, it is striking that two so widely different fields like physics and social science, and more especially economics, can interact in such a constructive way. There is no question here of reductionism. Nobody claims to be able to reduce social scien- ces to physics, nor to use patterns of social interaction in order to formulate new laws for atoms. What is at stake here is more im- portant than reduction; the age-old separation between the so-cal- led "hard" and "soft sciences" is breaking down. This separation has a long history. First, one should recall the influence of Newton's achievement on the formulation of scienti- fic goals. This influence led to the formulation of equilibrium mo- dels for supply/demand adjustment. As was noticed by Walter Weisskopf: "the Newtonian paradigm underlying classical and non-classical economics interpreted the economy according to the patterns developed in classical physics and mechanics, in analogy to the planetary system, to a machine or clockwork: a closed auto- nomous system ruled by endogenous factors of a highly selective nature, self-regulating and moving to a determinate, predictable point of equilibrium" (The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance (1984), Vol. 9, no. 33, pp. 335-360).
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Product details

  • Hardback | 271 pages
  • 165.1 x 242.3 x 27.4mm | 630.5g
  • Dordrecht, Netherlands
  • English
  • Revised
  • 2nd rev. ed. 1993
  • XXIII, 271 p.
  • 0792321677
  • 9780792321675

Table of contents

Preface; Ilya Prigogine. Foreword; Alexander King. List of Figures. 1. Introduction. 2. The New Battleground for Risk-Taking: the Service Economy. 3. Facing Social Uncertainty: Towards a New Social Policy in the Service Economy. 4. Producing the Wealth of Nations; the Risk Takers and the Supply Side of the Economy. The Dynamics of Disequilibrium. 5. At the Roots of Uncertainty. Bibliography. Index.
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