February, 2019

Emergence, Equilibrium, and Agent-Based Modeling

Updating James Buchanan’s Democratic Political Economy
  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Abigail N. Devereaux

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Nicholas Vriend (2002) asked whether F.A. Hayek was an “ace,” and answered affirmatively. By “ace,” Vriend meant someone who worked with agent-based modeling. To be sure, Hayek could not have worked with agent-based models because that platform did not exist when Hayek was developing his ideas about the distribution and use of knowledge in society. All the same, Vriend explained convincingly that Hayek could have made good use of the agent-based platform had it been available in the 1930s. To similar effect, we argue in this paper that James Buchanan could have made good use of agent-based modeling to carry forward his ideas about the value of taking an emergent approach to the explanation of economic processes.