Born on this day in 1899. It’s to analytical (social) epistemology’s (and philosophy of mind’s) impoverishment and shame that Hayek is not that well-known beyond the tiresome caricatures. For all my Hayekana see here. The featured image was very generously given to me by the highly exceptional Walt Weimer.
May 8, 2013 0 Comments Short URL Austrian School, complexity, consciousness, distributed cognition, distributed knowledge, Economics, Friedrich Hayek, philosophical psychology, Philosophy of mind, philosophy of social science, Political philosophy, Psychology, Sensory Order, social epistemology, Social Sciences, Spontaneous order, Stigmergy hayek
My chum Byron Kaldis’ big project has been brought to fruition. Bravo! My contribution: Hayek and the “Use of Knowledge in Society”. As you will see there is a terrific lineup – this is an exciting area to be in these days what with CogSci meeting social science – another project of Byron’s in the works.
April 16, 2013 0 Comments Short URL Austrian School, Byron Kaldis, cognitive closure, distributed cognition, distributed knowledge, Economics, Externalism, Friedrich Hayek, Hayek, Individualism, Liberalism, Philosophy of mind, philosophy of social science, rationalism, situated cognition, social epistemology, Social science, Spontaneous order hayek
Still on Hayek. Having just received my copy, I thought I’d give it another plug. My chapter Mindscapes and Landscapes: Hayek and Simon on Cognitive Extension is in this collection. The full line-up as follows:
Foreword; V. Smith
Introduction; R. Frantz & R. Leeson
Friedrich Hayek’s Behavioural Economics in Historical Context; R. Frantz
A Hayekian/Kirznerian Economic History of the Modern World; D. McCloskey
Was Hayek an Austrian Economist? Yes and No. Was Hayek a Praxeologist? No.; W. Block
Error is Obvious, Coordination is the Puzzle; P. Boettke, W. Caceres & A. Martin
Hayek’s Contribution to a Reconstruction of Economic Theory; H. Gintis
On the Relationships Between Friedrich Hayek and Jean Piaget; C. Chelini & S. Riva
Cognitive Autonomy and Epistemology of Action in Hayek’s and Merleau-Ponty’s Thought; F. Di Iorio
Hayek’s Sensory Order, Gestalt Neuroeconomics, and Quantum Psychophysics; T. Takahashi & S. Egashira
Mindscapes and Landscapes: Hayek and Simon on Cognitive Extension; L. Marsh
Hayek’s Complexity Assumption, Ecological and Bounded Rationality, and Behavioural Economics; M. Altman
Subjectivism and Explanations of the Principle; S. Fiori
Satisficing and Cognition; Complementarities between Simon and Hayek; P. Earl
The Oversight of Behavioural Economics on Hayek’s Insight; S. Rizzello & A. Spada
Complexity and Degeneracy in Socio-Economic Systems; G. Steel & H. Hosseini
April 7, 2013 0 Comments Short URL Austrian School, Bounded Rationality, Cognitive science, complexity, consciousness, distributed knowledge, Economics, Embodied cognition, Epistemology, Extended Mind, Externalism, Friedrich Hayek, Herbert Simon, Philosophy of mind, Political philosophy, Psychology, Sensory Order, Spontaneous order hayek
My chapter Mindscapes and Landscapes: Hayek and Simon on Cognitive Extension is published in this collection today. The full line-up as follows:
Introduction; R.Frantz & R.Leeson
Friedrich Hayek’s Behavioural Economics in Historical Context; R.Frantz
A Hayekian/Kirznerian Economic History of the Modern World; D.McCloskey
Was Hayek an Austrian Economist? Yes and No. Was Hayek a Praxeologist? No.; W.Block
Error is Obvious, Coordination is the Puzzle; P.Boettke, W.Caceres & A.Martin
Hayek’s Contribution to a Reconstruction of Economic Theory; H.Gintis
On the Relationships Between Friedrich Hayek and Jean Piaget; C.Chelini & S.Riva
Cognitive Autonomy and Epistemology of Action in Hayek’s and Merleau-Ponty’s Thought; F.Di Iorio
Hayek’s Sensory Order, Gestalt Neuroeconomics, and Quantum Psychophysics; T.Takahashi & S.Egashira
Mindscapes and Landscapes: Hayek and Simon on Cognitive Extension; L.Marsh
Hayek’s Complexity Assumption, Ecological and Bounded Rationality, and Behavioural Economics; M.Altman
Subjectivism and Explanations of the Principle; S.Fiori
Satisficing and Cognition; Complementarities between Simon and Hayek; P.Earl
The Oversight of Behavioural Economics on Hayek’s Insight; S.Rizzello & A.Spada
Complexity and Degeneracy in Socio-Economic Systems; G.Steel & H.Hosseini
January 30, 2013 0 Comments Short URL Austrian School, Bounded Rationality, Cognition, cognitive closure, Economics, Epistemology, Extended Mind, Externalism, Friedrich Hayek, Hayek, Jean Piaget, Simon, social epistemology, Spontaneous order, Stigmergy hayek
Hayek’s Speculative Psychology, The Neuroscience of value Estimation, and the Basis of Normative Individualism
An extract from the very excellent and versatile (economics and philosophy of mind) Don Ross.
In light of this history, it is not surprising that, as many commentators have noted, The Sensory Order was relatively neglected for a few decades, but has recently enjoyed a wave of scholarly appreciation. Much of this has centered on the ways in which Hayek’s philosophical psychology complements and completes his general model of adaptive complexity (Butos & Koppl, 1996; Horwitz, 2000, 2008; McQuade & Butos, 2005): both minds and markets are path-dependent incremental learning systems and distributed information processors that depend for their efficiency on freedom from executive planning bottlenecks. Thus the resistance of social processes to social engineering is reinforced by a kind of fractal reproduction of a ‘free market’ in information at the scale of the individual mind. Some cognitive scientists (Edelman, 1985; Fuster, 1995) have noted that Hayek’s high-level conception of mental architecture was substantively vindicated long after the fact. Regrettably, however, only occasional philosophers (e.g., Marsh, 2010) have drawn attention to his remarkable anticipation of sensible opinions that their profession spent decades groping toward, namely: that perception and conceptual filtering dynamically influence one another; that implicit procedural and explicit declarative knowledge form an epistemological continuum (Lycan, 1988; Wilson, 2006); that moderate functionalism is a sound view of the mind-brain relationship but radical functionalism that declares the brain irrelevant is nonsense (Clark, 1989); that consciousness is not the central planning commission of the mind (Dennett, 1991); and that Kant was right that categorical preconceptions structure mental experience, while empiricists were right that science can, does, and should ride roughshod over these preconceptions without limit (Humphreys, 2004; Ismael, 2007; Ladyman & Ross, 2007). As Marsh notes, Hayek even anticipated the ‘monochromeMary’ thought experiment (Jackson, 1996) that later distracted philosophers of consciousness (Dennett, 1991, 2006), but he immediately diagnosed its scientific idleness. [Some of the thought experiment’s philosophical proponents recognized the same thing eventually (Jackson, 2003).] No aspect of The Sensory Order is more impressive than its opening and closing philosophical framing, which remains fresh as paint.
Economic methodologists who study The Sensory Order tend to think that this issue is in turn important because the (relative) autonomy of intentional description and explanation is at the heart of the Austrian view of capital and of the principles by which the political economy best flourishes. Such an assumption is among the shared premises, animating lively debates over detailed implications, that is carried on by the authors collected in Butos (2010) when they take up a brief to explicate the significance of The Sensory Order for the study of the social order in both its positive and normative aspects. We might unpack the common premise in more detail as follows. Austrian social theory will enjoy a considerably shrunken pool of potential followers if it is thought to be hostage to the transcendental post-Kantian philosophy of human thought and action developed by von Mises (1966), because this underlying metaphysic of mind is uncongenial to most epistemological naturalists, and thus to most contemporary social scientists. In the current philosophical atmosphere, Austrian methodological and normative theory stands on much firmer ground if a semi-autonomous domain of intentionality is thought to spontaneously emerge from the interactions of brains and their physical environments. Happily (for pro-Austrians), such ideas are now widespread among scientists in a range of disciplines that study complexity. Still more happily, the aspects of this perspective that are derived from principles of neural organization and functioning were clearly and explicitly developed by Hayek in The Sensory Order; so we have evidence that Austrian social theorizing is not merely compatible with emergentist naturalism about intentionality, but is indeed part of its original intellectual context. This view is not wrong; Hayek indeed provides Austrian methodologists with a more satisfactory philosophy of mind than von Mises’s. However, many would be disappointed to think that all The Sensory Order does for them is show them that they don’t have to endorse von Mises’s declaration of independence from empirical behavioral science. I will argue, however, that Hayek’s philosophical psychology fails to provide any stronger support for Austrian economics or economic methodology. Two widespread, and interrelated, assumptions made by Hayek’s apologists have obscured this. First, there is a tendency to take for granted that the (relative) autonomy of intentional patterns from neuroelectrical and neurochemical patterns is directly associated with the (relative) autonomy of individual choices. If this is not the case, then rejection of neuro-reductionist foundations for economics yields no particular implications in favor of Austrian over neoclassical methodology or policy philosophy. Second, there is a tendency to assume that if brains implement distributed neural networks, then relative economic values must be computed by these networks through the sculpting of global vectors of weights in state spaces by conceptually mediated environmental contingencies. This assumption courts potential dialectical disaster, at least in the short run, for Austrian apologists, because the most flourishing current research programme in neuroeconomics is based precisely on denying it.
January 26, 2013 0 Comments Short URL Austrian School, Cognitive neuroscience, Cognitive science, Connectionism, distributed cognition, distributed knowledge, Don Ross, Extended Mind, Friedrich Hayek, Fuster, Individualism, neuroscience, philosophical psychology, Philosophy, Philosophy of mind, philosophy of social science, Sensory Order, Social Brain, social connectionism, social epistemology, Spontaneous order, stigmergic cognition, Stigmergy, von Mises hayek
Here is an advance listing of the forthcoming volume Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences masterly edited by my chum Byron Kaldis. My contribution: Hayek and the “Use of Knowledge in Society”
January 14, 2013 0 Comments Short URL Austrian School, distributed cognition, distributed knowledge, Epistemology, Friedrich Hayek, Hayek, Philosophy, Philosophy of science, Road to Serfdom, social epistemology, Social science philosophy of science, philosophy of social science
Having just received copies of the book in which our paper appears, here is another excuse to plug both our paper and the rest of the book’s contents. Here is an extract from Roger Koppl’s introduction:
This volume contains papers given at the third biennial Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies Conference on Austrian Economics. The conference was held at a beautiful waterfront facility of Simon Fraser University on October 15 and 16, 2010. In spite of all warnings to expect fog and rain in the Pacific Northwest, the weather was sunny and mild, as were the spirits of the conferees. Our topic title, ‘‘Austrian Views on Experts and Epistemic Monopolies,’’ was perhaps a bit misleading because some of the views represented were not ‘‘Austrian.’’ Indeed, the editorial mission of Advances in Austrian Economics has been to promote dialogue between the ‘‘Austrian’’ tradition of economics and other traditions both within in economics and beyond. Participants discussed the problem of experts from several Austrian and non-Austrian perspectives. While representing different points of view, the participants did tend toward the view that experts may pose a problem in one way or another, especially when they enjoy an epistemic monopoly.
In the past year, the spirits of Keynes and Hayek have done battle for the minds of China’s policymakers. This month Andrew Batson of GK Dragonomics, a research consultancy in Beijing, argued that Hayek seems to be winning.
September 22, 2012 0 Comments Short URL Austrian School, distributed cognition, distributed knowledge, Embodied cognition, Friedrich Hayek, philosophical psychology, social epistemology, Spontaneous order hayek
Here is the abstract and the introduction from the volume Experts and Epistemic Monopolies where our paper can be found.
Purpose/problem statement – Two highly successful complex adaptive systems are the Market and Science, each with an inherent tendency toward epistemic imperialism. Of late, science, notably medical science, seems to have become functionally subservient to market imperatives. We offer a twofold Hayekian analysis: a justification of the multiplicity view of spontaneous orders and a critique of the libertarian justification of market prioricity.
Methodology/approach – This chapter brings to light Hayekian continuities between diverse literatures – philosophical, epistemological, cognitive, and scientific.
Findings – The very precondition of knowledge is the exploitation of the epistemic virtues accorded by society’s manifold of spontaneous forces, a manifold that gives context and definition to intimate, regulate, and inform action. The free-flow of information is the lifeblood of civil (liberal) society. The commoditization of medical knowledge promotes a dysfunctional free-flow of information that compromises notions of expertise and ultimately has implications for the greater good.
Research limitations/implications – While we accept that there are irresolvable tensions between these epistemic magisteria we are troubled by the overt tampering with the spontaneous order mechanism of medical science. The lessons of Hayek are not being assimilated by many who would go by the adjective Hayekian.
Originality/value of chapter – On offer is a Hayekian restatement (contra the libertarian view typically attributed to Hayek) cautioning that no one spontaneous order should dominate over another, neither should they be made conversable. Indeed, we argue that the healthy functioning of a market presupposes institutions that should not answer to market imperatives.
It’s a common error to mistake the nature of liberalism. Of course ‘‘liberalism’’ is a term with many meanings, some unrelated and not all compatible. A common refrain from both self-avowed Hayekians and critics alike attributes to Hayek the view that the market is the root of social order. In this chapter we dispute this assertion. Hayek made it clear in no uncertain terms that the market exists as part of a manifold of spontaneous orders that constitute the fabric of civil (liberal) society. Hayek’s defence of common law against legislation, morality, and tradition against so-called ‘‘social justice,’’ and the market against the egalitarian impulse affirms the multiplicity view. What Hayek was recommending was the interdependence of independent equals. This provides the philosophical backdrop to the discussion. As grist to the Hayekian mill we draw upon an eclectic body of literature and examples. The discussion unfolds as follows: the second section examines Hayek’s supposed economism and libertarianism; the third section looks at the characteristics of science as a spontaneous order; the fourth section recasts the notion of a spontaneous order as an extended cognitive system afforded by technological developments. The fifth section examines some of the distortive market influences upon medical science and the sixth section discusses the philosophical motivations behind the open access movement. The penultimate section looks at a specific case study – The Knowledge Hub for Pathology (hereafter TKHP) – that instantiates the virtues of a spontaneous order discussed in the preceding four sections. We conclude with a few brief remarks.
I see that the publisher now has a fully detailed page up for a volume that I’ve been privileged to be a part of. The Foreword is by a very nice chappie going by the name of V.Smith and includes luminaries such as McCloskey, Boettke, Gintis, Steel and others. My abstract:
Mindscapes and Landscapes: Hayek and Simon on Cognitive Extension
Hayek’s and Simon’s social externalism runs on a shared presupposition: mind is constrained in its computational capacity to detect, harvest, and assimilate “data” generated by the infinitely fine-grained and perpetually dynamic characteristic of experience in complex social environments. For Hayek, mind and sociality are co-evolved spontaneous orders, allowing little or no prospect of comprehensive explanation, trapped in a hermeneutically sealed, i.e. inescapably context bound, eco-system. For Simon, it is the simplicity of mind that is the bottleneck, overwhelmed by the ambient complexity of the environmental. Since on Simon’s account complexity is unidirectional, Simon is far more ebullient about the prospects of explanation. Hayek’s social externalism functions as a kind of distributed “extra-neural” memory store manifest as dynamic spontaneous orders. Simon’s organizational rule-governed externalism negotiates the “inner” world (the mind) with the “outer” world through a homeostatic interface that offloads the cognitive burden into the environment. Their respective externalisms may differ in detail but not in spirit in that it ameliorates their shared presupposition of cognitive constraint. Even though any “optimization talk” for Hayek and Simon is objectionable, knowledge acquisition can be represented by a contextualized stigmergic swarm optimization algorithm that gives due emphasis to both the individual and the environment. The key insight is that “perfect” knowledge is unnecessary, impracticable and indeed irrelevant if one understands the mechanism at work in complex sociality, a stigmergic sociality that in effect augments or scaffolds cognition.
July 11, 2012 0 Comments Short URL complexity, Cognitive science, Cognition, Friedrich Hayek, Hayek, Philosophy of mind, Extended Mind, Austrian School, social epistemology, Herbert Simon, Economics, Colin McGinn, Spontaneous order, Social science, Bounded Rationality stigmergy, social epistemology, social ontology, extended mind, hayek, social cognition, self-referentiality, cognitive closure, stigmergic, situated cognition, spontaneous order, externalism, extended cognitive systems, social connectionism, stigmergic cognition, social psychology, spontaneous orders, herb gintis, behavioral economics, vernon smith, self organizing systems, Pete Boettke, bounded rationality, Deirdre McCloskey
- Kermit Ruffins: We Partyin’ Traditional Style! May 22, 2013
- A Confederacy of Dunces – quotes and extracts – 13 May 22, 2013
- Mark Rowlands on the Extended Mind May 21, 2013
- Kripke resigns as report alleges he faked results of thought experiments May 20, 2013
- Social relationships and groups: New insights on embodied and distributed cognition May 19, 2013
- Oakeshott on Science as a Mode of Experience May 17, 2013
- A Confederacy of Dunces – quotes and extracts – 12 May 16, 2013
- Stigmergy and emergent behaviour May 15, 2013
- The socially extended mind May 14, 2013
- Consciousness and the social mind May 13, 2013
- Science of Swarms May 12, 2013
- Jazz as conversation May 11, 2013
- Oakeshott on the Character of Religious Experience: Need There be a Conflict Between Science and Religion? May 11, 2013
- The Dynamically Extended Mind – A Minimal Modeling Case Study May 10, 2013
- A Confederacy of Dunces – quotes and extracts – 11 May 9, 2013