Normative Implications of Complexity

visionThe fourth Constructed Complexities workshop hosted excellent presentations and very interesting discussions. We started from ontology of complexity and ended up with new approaches to institutions, covering a long theoretical distance one step at a time. We will be posting slides or notes of presentations here in the project blog. Whether you were one of the workshop participants or not, please feel free to share your thoughts on these materials.

We are starting with the slides of Mark Olssen, who gave a very rich and inspiring lecture on complexity. He started by explaining that Newtonian mechanics posited closed systems where time was ‘reversible’, thus presuming an atemporal view of the universe. Complexity view on the other hand emphasises chance, contingency, uncertainty, bifurcation and indeterminacy. Mark also criticised, however, the neo-positivist take of complexity in some agent-based models where the focus is exclusively on bottom-up emergence of phenomena without representing entities with political authority.

You can find Mark’s slides at the link below. Let us know what you think.


The image by Bjorn Simon used above is made available with the courtesy of

2 thoughts on “Normative Implications of Complexity

  1. Thanks for posting this link – looks like a very interesting talk. Particularly interested in Mark’s thought on overly positivist foundations of (some?) agent-based modelling. It’s fascinating to think about the tacit assumptions that are encoded in taking this approach.

    • Thanks for your comment Richard. Just a quick additional note, discussions during the workshop also covered a tacit difference between American and European approaches to social complexity and simulation, arguing the former in general may be more neo-positivist. And continue following the blog, we will post about other talks as well.

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