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You are here: Home / Agenda / Seminars / Cycles de séminaires / Les engagements épistémiques des théories de la complexité / Whose complexity? Modelling or governing the environment? / Complexity sciences and Hayek's neoliberalism

Whose complexity? Modelling or governing the environment? / Complexity sciences and Hayek's neoliberalism

Catharina Landstrom & Fabrizio Li Vigni
When Feb 01, 2021
from 11:00 to 12:30
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1 February - from 11 am to 12.30 pm


  • "Whose complexity? Modelling or governing the environment ?", Catharina Landstrom (Article Catharina Landstrom : here)
  • "Complexity sciences and Hayek's neoliberalism", Fabrizio Li Vigni (Article Fabrizio Li Vigni : here)

------> video available : HERE


List of invited speakers : - Fabrizio Li Vigni (

 Representing or intervening? When less is more in environmental modelling  - Catharina Landström

How much ‘real world’ complexity can you ignore? This is a question that all computer simulation modellers have to address. While computer models make it possible to represent complex systems there are limits to the number of parameters it makes sense to include in a model. Different modelling approaches have different affordances in this regard. The purpose of modelling is also important. Scientific modellers often take pride in the number of elements and relationships that the models they create can represent. However, modelling for environmental management requires a different perspective on complexity and model representation. To build models that provide actionable knowledge for environmental decision makers it is necessary to minimise the number of elements and processes included in the model. Decision makers are not interested in knowing as much as possible about the functioning of a system, they need to know what they can do, to which effects. Models for environmental management must be trustworthy and provide actionable knowledge. But, what is a modeller to do when all the decision makers involved do not operate in the same realities? In this presentation I will consider how the tension between representing complex realities and intervening in them is present in environmental modelling for decision making. Drawing on empirical examples from the field of water management in the UK I will discuss how complexity can be addressed in modelling for the management of socio-hydrological systems.

Article Catharina Landstrom : here



Complexity sciences and Hayek's neoliberalism - Fabrizio Li Vigni

Complexity sciences are one of the most mediatized scientific fields of the last forty years. While this domain has attracted the attention of many philosophers of science, its normative and political aspects have, until recently, not made the object of any systematic study. The present text inscribes in the thin social science literature about complexity and proposes a contribution focused on the political – ideological and organizational – issues of the Santa Fe Institute’s, cradle of the domain. In particular, it illustrates the existence of a certain connection it has with neoliberalism. Two entry points have been chosen. The first is theoretical and deals with the institute’s ontological and axiological views of nature and society, as they are based on a certain reading of Hayek and Darwin. The second entry point is institutional and tackles SFI’s philosophy of fund raising and organizational functioning inspired by Schumpeter. The thesis of the article is that the SFI can be seen as a scientific private institution with some of the characteristics of think tanks, which embodies and justifies a neoliberal view of research based on decentralized innovation, creative destruction and competition.