Agent-based Modeling as Quintessential Tool for Open-ended Social Theorizing

28 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2019

See all articles by Abigail Devereaux

Abigail Devereaux

George Mason University, Department of Economics

Richard E. Wagner

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 11, 2019

Abstract

Thought experiments have long been employed as a technique of analytical thinking where the theorist poses “what if” questions to some articulated model. The entities in those models are typically aggregate variables, though sometimes those variables masquerade as individuals by adopting such analytical devices as representative agent models. While this procedure has tractability on its side, it also prevents analysis of the myriad ways in which social interaction can generate new phenomena. For instance, a representative agent does not generate prices or business organizations, nor engage in conflict and develop procedures for settling conflict. To understand the place of such practices and institutions within a social economy requires a generative and not a stipulative mode of analysis. This paper explains how agent-based computational modeling can serve as a valuable modeling platform for theorizing about societies in an open-ended manner where internally-generated change is a property of social interaction.

Keywords: agent-based modeling; open-ended theorizing; mechanical vs. creative social systems; generation vs. stipulation; debate vs. discussion in political economy

JEL Classification: B40, B55, C90, P16

Suggested Citation

Devereaux, Abigail and Wagner, Richard E., Agent-based Modeling as Quintessential Tool for Open-ended Social Theorizing (April 11, 2019). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 19-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3370400 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3370400

Abigail Devereaux

George Mason University, Department of Economics ( email )

Fairfax, VA
United States

Richard E. Wagner (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
334 Enterprise Hall
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
(703) 993-1132 (Phone)

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
63
Abstract Views
309
rank
355,840
PlumX Metrics