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The evolutionary approach to entropy: Reconciling Georgescu-Roegen's natural philosophy with the maximum entropy framework

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  • Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten

Abstract

In Georgescu-Roegen's classical, though controversial discussion of entropy in relation to economics, the dualism of mechanical and subjective time plays a pivotal role. I argue that this fundamental distinction also inheres modern approaches to maximum entropy. Following Searle, I introduce the ontological dualism of observer independent and observer relative facts, and show that the notion of entropy also manifests this dualism, in the sense of the contextuality of measurements in experimental settings. Extending on the notion of observer relativity, I argue that the MaxEnt principle can be generalized into a framework of analyzing the evolution of (biological, technological etc.) functions under natural selection, if functions are equated with inference devices. Then, observer relativity is function relativity. In hierarchical evolutionary systems, this corresponds to the Maximum Entropy Production Principle, in the sense that functional evolution approximates gradients of maximum dissipation of energy. Against this background, the Georgescu-Roegen dualism of time translates into the dualism of observer independent entropy, which is the object of MEPP, and observer relative entropy, which is the object of MaxEnt. Both are two aspects under which evolution in general and economic evolution in particular can be analyzed.

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  • Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten, 2010. "The evolutionary approach to entropy: Reconciling Georgescu-Roegen's natural philosophy with the maximum entropy framework," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 140, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:140
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten, 2015. "Energy, growth, and evolution: Towards a naturalistic ontology of economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 432-442.
    3. Russ, Meir, 2016. "The probable foundations of sustainabilism: Information, energy and entropy based definition of capital, Homo Sustainabiliticus and the need for a “new gold”," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 328-338.
    4. Yu, Xiaofan, 2011. "A spatial interpretation of the persistency of China's provincial inequality," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 171, 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Georgescu-Roegen; maximum entropy; observer relativity; time; hierarchical evolutionary systems; natural selection; physical concepts of information;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics

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