Dissertation Abstract




Essays On Tychism, Exchangeability, and Indeterminism in Economics


David Duane Dearmont


Degree:           PH.D.

Year:             1994

Pages:            00124

Institution:      TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY; 0803

Advisor:          Chair: DAVID A. BESSLER


Source:           DAI, 56, no. 02A, (1994): 0648


An explanation for the difficulty in making accurate long-range forecasts of economic phenomena is that the economy is in the process of evolving. Hence, the relationships between economic variables are constantly changing. This study presents the argument that economic laws are indeterministic, probabilistic, and do not have a fixed causal structure, and that economic models must be flexible enough to allow for changing parameters. Forecasting requires only regularity in the relationships between economic variables.

Charles Sanders Peirce argued that chance operates at a fundamental level in Nature and that the laws of Nature are evolving. Peirce called this doctrine tychism. Tychism does not rule out scientific investigation of phenomena, but it implies that "laws" are merely stable relationships between variables. The first essay of this dissertation demonstrates how tychism can lead to stable relationships between variables, and how tychism was instrumental in Peirce's founding of the institutional school of economics.

The demonstration of tychism leads to an exploration of exchangeability in the second essay. Exchangeability is a property that results in the ability to aggregate and make reasonable forecasts when independence of events is violated. In this essay exchangeability is applied to subjective probability appraisal, the formation of group consensus, separability in econometric modeling, the treatment of residuals in time series analysis, calibration, monetary history, and the formation of scientific disciplines.

The last essay demonstrates the results of applying tychism and exchangeability to agricultural economics. In this essay, the history and methodology of agricultural economics is reviewed through a study of the "farm problem." A counteraction analysis suggests the existence of the farm problem. Gardner argues that most agricultural economists deny the existence of the farm problem. This implies that agricultural economists validate their theories on the basis of conventions and not on the outcome of econometric tests.

This dissertation attempts to show that economic forecasting and theory are compatible with indeterminism. Forecasting performance is enhanced if economists do not insist upon discovering "true" models with fixed and unchangeable parameters, but instead recognize that the economy is evolving.





Accession No:     AAI9520342

Provider:        OCLC

Database:         Dissertations