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Complexity, Planning, Sustainability, and Survival

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Loews Philadelphia, Congress C
Hosted By: Association for Evolutionary Economics
  • Chair: Felipe Almeida, Federal University of Paraná

Military Planning in a Context of Complex Systems and Climate Change

F. Gregory Hayden
University of Nebraska-Lincoln


The task of the U.S. military will continue to grow due to the destruction from climate change across the globe. Climate Change has caused the loss of military bases due to the ocean rising and has created war, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and the destruction of social institutions due to drought, more intense storms,hunger, and mass migration. Climate change will continue to grow so global violence will continue to grow at a rate faster than the military can cope without a change in purposeful planning to reduce violence. Two concerns stressed at the week-long consortium in which I participated recently at the U.S. Army War College were the heavy military burden due to climate change and the need to use the principles of complex systems in planning design. Thus,the military needs to reach out into areas devastated by climate change in order to reduce the likelihood of violence. Without such action, global violence will proceed beyond what the military can handle. Military aid to a population after a war is not new; what is new here is to demonstrate how complex systems principles can be utilized to prevent wars.

The Circular Economy and Institutional Economics

Charles J. Whalen
State University of New York-Buffalo


In a variety of fields, a growing number of scholars and practitioners are stressing the notion of a "circular economy" as an alternative to the unsustainable notion of a "linear economy" (based on the idea of "take, make, and dispose"). This paper surveys the origins, core elements, and key applications of the circular economy concept. It also explores that concept's compatibilty with institutional economics. The paper closes by suggesting directions for future collaboration among institutionalists and circular-economy scholars.

Institutional Transition Toward the Circular Economy: China Versus Japan

Brian Chi-ang Lin
National Chengchi University
Mingming Pan
Wright State University


To date, more and more governments in the world have taken measures to promote the circular economy. Take the Asian countries for example. In China, the circular economy was adopted by the central government as a vital strategy for achieving sustainability. The Standing Committee of the Chinese 11th National People’s Congress (NPC) passed the Circular Economy Promotion Law in August 2008. Former Chinese President Hu Jintao immediately signed it into law and it came into force in January 2009. In Japan, eight recycling-related ministries (including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) have designated October as “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Promotion Month” (i.e., 3Rs Promotion Month) to foster social cooperation for implementing the circular economy. This paper emphasizes that it is necessary for the government to initiate institutional change and enforce new laws/rules to promote the circular economy. That is, all levels of governments have to play a crucial role to stimulate the emergence of more circular economic activities. In this regard, this paper thoroughly investigates policy measures implemented and the corresponding consequences in China and Japan, respectively. This study concludes that the potential gains to Japan of moving to a more circular economy would be less than for China. It is, however, much easier for Japan to more toward a mature circular economy. Finally, this paper points out that Japan could generate additional gains if Japan and China cooperate with each other to stimulate the emergence of an international circular economy.

Evolutionary Origins of Markets: Sapiens, Sociality and Survival

Rojhat B. Avsar
Columbia College-Chicago


This paper treats the “market” as an “adaptive” institutional innovation existing alongside many other institutions. Human societies have adopted various social organizations, from reciprocity to exchange, to deal with the survival challenges. Markets may be evaluated in this vein. That said, the market system is unique in that Sapiens interact with one another (virtual strangers in most cases) in a way that is seemingly incompatible with their tribal past. Sapiens are, in fact, capable of generating institutions that are conducive to establishing and maintaining such relationships that are key to their survival. What Adam Smith called “propensity to barter” wouldn’t have come about unless Sapiens had a set of neural networks specialized in social exchange (e.g. cheater detection) enabling them to engage in effective reciprocal relationships which characterized their foraging past. In this paper, we draw on Evolutionary Psychology to articulate the origin of Sapiens’ capacity for complex social relations that make the existence of markets possible in the first place. Evolutionary Psychology provides a compelling theory of such psychological adaptations which renders it useful for investigating compatibility of markets with human nature.

The Unnaturalness of Neoliberal Hyper-individualism

Quentin Duroy
Denison University


While competition and cooperation are two collective traits of our species, the neoliberal mantra of maximization of self-interested goals in a context of individual competition is decidedly un-natural. The impact of neoliberal doctrine on social structure and relationships among individuals as social agents is wreaking havoc on many countries, institutions and individual lives through the rise and strengthening of illiberal movements and regimes all over the world. In this article I propose to contextualize the un-naturalness of neoliberal principles through a review of the recent literature on evolutionism and culture group selection. In particular I will argue that neoliberal principles (and aspects of neoclassical theory) are parasitic upon genetically and culturally-evolved pre-dispositions towards morality and deservingness. Only in cases in which individuals are perceived as groups of one could competition be an effective allocative mechanism (a phenomenon I refer to as hyper-individualism). However, in the absence of cultural learning and accumulation it is likely that ‘groups’ of hyper-individualists will falter since they will undermine the collaborative aspect of human nature.
Tae-Hee Jo
State University of New York-Buffalo State
JEL Classifications
  • P0 - General
  • B5 - Current Heterodox Approaches