A look at Friedrick Hayek’s work on complexity theory from math complexity theorist Barkley Rosser (doc). For newbees, the article helpfully reviews a few important issues in the literature, brings attention to the work of Roger Koppl, and has a useful introductory bibliography.
Rosser, unfortunately, fails the engage the most fundamental –and scientifically challenging — elements of Hayek’s complexity work, e.g. (1) the multiple many-many problems of neuroscience/psychology, production theory/valuation theory, and the relative price mechanism which block reduction in economic science to “simpler” sciences such as physics and chemistry (see e.g. Hayek’s “Scientism and the Study of Society” essays, The Sensory Order, and The Pure Theory of Capital); (2) the common problem of specifying “initial conditions” common to non-linear systems in physics and chemistry, and the same problem found in the impossibility of specifying the “initial conditions” of individual choice, local knowledge, and entrepreneurial learning (e.g. the problem of “subjective” economics); (3) the complex link between theses various many-many problems and “initial conditions” specification problems and the pure subjectivity of the pure logic of choice.
And Rosser doesn’t do much to tie these core Hayekian complexity issues up with precisely the same sort of complexity issues in Darwinian biology. In the fields of explanation theory and philosophy of science, Hayek notes a parallel between the explanatory nature and complexity characteristics of Darwinian biology. Hayek doesn’t do much to advance the ball in this regard (he does more drawing the parallel between complexity and explanation issues in global brain theory and economics), and neither here does Barkley.