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Rethinking evolution, entropy and economics: A triadic conceptual framework for the maximum entropy principle as applied to the growth of knowledge

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  • Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten

Abstract

Recently, the maximum entropy principle has been applied to explain the evolution of complex non-equilibrium systems, such as the Earth system. I argue that it can also be fruitfully deployed to reconsider the classical treatment of entropy in economics by Georgescu-Roegen, if the growth of knowledge is seen as a physical process. Relying on central categories of Peirce's theory of signs, I follow the lines of a naturalistic evolutionary epistemology. In this framework, the three principles of Maximum Entropy (Jaynes), Maximum Power (Lotka) and Maximum Entropy Production can be arranged in a way such that evolution can be conceived as a process that manifests the physical tendency to maximize information generation and information capacity. This implies that the growth of knowledge is the dual of the process of entropy production. This theory matches with recent empirical research showing that economic growth can be tracked by measures of the throughput of useful work, mediated by the thermodynamic efficiency of the conversion of exergy into useful work. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Frankfurt School of Finance and Management in its series Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series with number 146.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:146

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Keywords: Peirce; Georgescu-Roegen; maximum entropy; maximum power; natural selection; semeiosis; physical inference devices; economic growth; useful work;

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As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
  1. > Schools of Economic Thought, Epistemology of Economics > Heterodox Approaches > Thermoeconomics > The economy system and entropy minimization
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Cited by:
  1. Boeing, Philipp & Mueller, Elisabeth & Sandner, Philipp, 2012. "What makes Chinese firms productive? Learning from indigenous and foreign sources of knowledge," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 196, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  2. Alexander Libman & Vladimir Kozlov & André Schultz, 2012. "Roving Bandits in Action: Outside Option and Governmental Predation in Autocracies," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 526-562, November.
  3. Dietmar Harhoff & Elisabeth Mueller & John Van Reenen, 2013. "What are the Channels for Technology Sourcing? Panel Data Evidence from German Companies," CEP Discussion Papers dp1193, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Kostka, Genia & Moslener, Ulf & Andreas, Jan G., 2011. "Barriers to energy efficiency improvement: Empirical evidence from small-and-medium sized enterprises in China," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 178, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  5. Böing, Philipp & Müller, Elisabeth, 2012. "Technological Capabilities of Chinese Enterprises: Who is Going to Compete Abroad?," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62081, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  6. Inklaar, Robert & Koetter, Michael & Noth, Felix, 2012. "Who's afraid of big bad banks? Bank competition, SME, and industry growth," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 197, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

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