Determinism and free will in social sciences: mathematical contributions

Vol. 21 No. 2 (2001)

Apr-Jun / 2001
Published April 1, 2001
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))

How to Cite

Louçã, Francisco. 2001. “Determinism and Free Will in Social Sciences: Mathematical Contributions”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 21 (2):342-64.

Determinism and free will in social sciences: mathematical contributions

Francisco Louçã
Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal.
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 21 No. 2 (2001), Apr-Jun / 2001, Pages 342-364


The paper surveys some of the powerful criticisms developed against the paradigm of general equilibrium, in particular those that were presented from the viewpoint of new insights from mathematics and physics. Maxwell, Duhem, Poincare?, Hurst and Mandelbrot, as many others, contrasted the universe of simplicity – the basis for the central limit theorem and most of traditional statistical inference – with the universe of organized complexity, arguing that auto-poiesis and coordination are indeed general features of our physical or social systems. The impact of these discussions in economics is then presented, since some criticisms to the theory of general equilibrium and in particular to the Cowles Commission programme emerged from this intuition on complexity: Sims, Granger, Wold, Hendry and other economists, statisticians or mathematicians expressed their reservations in relation to the orthodox tradition and culture in our science. The current heterodox strategies are discussed in the last part of the paper.

JEL Classification: B41; B00.

Keywords: Economic methodology history of economic thought