Prediction or Prophecy?: The Boundaries of Economic Foreknowledge and Their Socio-Political Consequences

Front Cover
Springer Science & Business Media, 2007 M10 6 - 280 pages
"Knowing, in order to predict". It was this leitmotiv alone that Auguste Comte, in the 19th century, considered suitable for the then rapidly developing empirical sciences. This view remains unchanged until today—not only in the empirical sciences themselves, but also in the philosophy of science. A scientific theory is and should be evaluated primarily on the grounds of its capacity to correctly predict observable phenomena. The aim of predicting takes precedence over the other important aim of science, namely to produce and purposefully manipulate phenomena by technical means in the laboratory, moreover, it even includes the latter. For if scientists successfully produce and manipulate certain phenomena in an experiment, they can ipso facto predict how that experiment will evolve under certain conditions. We live in a scientifically-dominated world: The more science progresses, the more important correct scientific predictions become. To a sometimes even fa tal extent we have made ourselves dependent on science and its results. Our scientifical-technological interventions into nature, yet also into social processes, cover ever larger spatial and temporal distances, and the consequences are ever more drastic given the increasing effort that would be required to reverse the effects—if that is possible at all. That is the reason why we ought to be very well informed about the consequences of our actions, in particular those based on science and technology.

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Contents

Introduction
1
Recent performance of economic forecasts
21
Historical perspective 43
42
Forecast performance in natural sciences
53
Predictability of complex systems
81
Expectations and reflexiveness
113
Sensitive dependence on initial conditions
131
Experiment and simulation
145
Unrealisticassumption explanations
163
Consequences for traditional decision making 177
176
Rational decision making under uncertainty and ignorance
197
Postnormal science
231
Appendix
255
Bibliography 263
262
Index
275
Copyright

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Page 35 - It should be clear from what has been said so far that the basic needs approach is an attempt to reflect the attitudes and views of the members of a given society.
Page 226 - Some speculative physicians seem to have imagined that the health of the human body could be preserved only by a certain precise regimen of diet and exercise, of which every, the smallest, violation necessarily occasioned some degree of disease or disorder proportioned to the degree of the violation.
Page 122 - The hypothesis can be rephrased a little more precisely as follows: that expectations of firms (or, more generally, the subjective probability distribution of outcomes) tend to be distributed, for the same information set, about the prediction of the theory (or the "objective" probability distributions of outcomes).
Page 231 - If the arrangement of society is bad and a small number of people have power over the majority and oppress it, every victory over nature will inevitably serve only to increase that power and that oppression. That is what is actually happening.
Page 186 - It will appear ) that a measurable uncertainty, or "risk" proper, as we shall use the term, is so far different from an unmeasurable one that it is not in effect an uncertainty at all. We shall accordingly restrict the term "uncertainty" to cases of the non-quantitive type.
Page 168 - ... the crystalline spheres of ancient and medieval astronomy; the humoral theory of medicine; the effluvial theory of static electricity; "catastrophist" geology, with its commitment to a universal (Noachian) deluge; the phlogiston theory of chemistry; the caloric theory of heat; the vibratory theory of heat; the vital force theories of physiology; the electromagnetic aether; the optical aether; the theory of circular inertia; theories of spontaneous generation.
Page 226 - Marshall had stated it hopefully over seventy years ago: 'the social and economic forces already at work are changing the distribution of (income) for the better; . . . they are persistent and increasing in strength; and . . . their influence is for the greater part...
Page 238 - And fourth (but this would be a long-term project, which it would take generations of totalitarian control to bring to a successful conclusion) a foolproof system of eugenics, designed to standardize the human product and so to facilitate the task of the managers. In Brave New World this standardization of the human product has been pushed to fantastic, though not perhaps impossible, extremes.

About the author (2007)

Dr. Gregor Betz ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter von Prof. Dr. Holm Tetens am Fachbereich Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften der Freien Universitšt Berlin.

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