Constructing a General Theory of Life: The Dynamics of Human and Non-human Systems
The ultimate objective of theorists studying living systems is to construct a general theory of life that can explain and predict the dynamics of both human and nonhuman systems. Yet little progress has been made in this endeavour. Why? Because of the inappropriate methods adopted by complexity theorists. By assuming that the supply-side physics model – in which local interactions are said to give rise to the emergence of order and complexity – could be transferred either entirely (social physics) or partially (agent-based models, or ABMs) from the physical to the life sciences, we have distorted reality and, thereby, delayed the construction of a general dynamic theory of living systems. Is there a solution? Yes, but only if we abandon the deductive and analogical methods of complexity theorists and adopt the inductive method. With this approach it is possible to construct a realist and demand-side general dynamic theory, as in the case of the dynamic-strategy theory presented in this paper.
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- Robert Axelrod, 1997. "Advancing the Art of Simulation in the Social Sciences," Working Papers 97-05-048, Santa Fe Institute.
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