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Deep Complexity and the Social Sciences

Experience, Modelling and Operationality Robert Delorme, Emeritus Professor, Université de Versailles, France
In this innovative work, Robert Delorme comprehensively explores uncertainty (the irreducibility to numerically measurable probabilities) and ignorance in economics, management and the social sciences through an alternative, systematically built analytical framework.

This unique book takes uncertainty and ignorance seriously and addresses them as instances of ‘deep complexity’ (problem situations so deeply ill-structured that they cannot be grasped with the concepts and tools of classical science). Building on the works of Herbert Simon, Heinz von Foerster and John von Neumann, the author develops an alternative framework that encompasses, rather than rejects, the classical framework. The outcome of this novel approach is ‘effective deep complexity’, comprising three aspects: an effective alternative framework, which brings an answer to a fundamental issue on the implications of uncertainty for scientific reasoning; a behavioural theory of deeply ill-structured problem-situations; and a decision-and-action support system.
Extent: 496 pp
Hardback Price: £112.00 Web: £100.80
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 978 1 84980 026 6
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  • eISBN: 978 1 78100 066 3

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  • Economics and Finance
  • Evolutionary Economics
In this innovative work, Robert Delorme comprehensively explores uncertainty (the irreducibility to numerically measurable probabilities) and ignorance in economics, management and the social sciences through an alternative, systematically built analytical framework.

This unique book takes uncertainty and ignorance seriously and addresses them as instances of ‘deep complexity’ (problem situations so deeply ill-structured that they cannot be grasped with the concepts and tools of classical science). Building on the works of Herbert Simon, Heinz von Foerster and John von Neumann, the author develops an alternative framework that encompasses, rather than rejects, the classical framework. The outcome of this novel approach is ‘effective deep complexity’, comprising three aspects: an effective alternative framework, which brings an answer to a fundamental issue on the implications of uncertainty for scientific reasoning; a behavioural theory of deeply ill-structured problem-situations; and a decision-and-action support system.

Robert Delorme has provided an invaluable resource for researchers and academics in the broad realm of economics and business management. This work will also appeal to decision-makers and policymakers due to its practical applications, including structural economic policy, transport and industry.
‘Today, in the academic world, we are pushed to present our ideas in short, high quality journal articles. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult to devote time to a project spanning decades to produce a book of fundamental importance. Robert Delorme has been able to do this and the outcome is a marvellous and rare work of scholarship. This book will become the key reference in the field of complex economic systems. It is a thorough and systematic treatment of complexity. The existing literature in the field is well covered and each key contribution is assessed clearly from the standpoint of the “deep complexity” approach developed by Robert Delorme. The volume is long, but it is the product of many years of work and there is little doubt that it will remain the key reference for a number of years hence. This is a path-breaking book.’
– John Foster, The University of Queensland, Australia
Contents: Preface Part I: Experience 1. Heuristics 2. Originality Part II: Modelling 3. Relativity 4. Deep Complexity as Product 5. Deep Complexity as Process 6. Generality Part III: Operationality 7. Synthesis 8. Applications General Conclusion References Index