Rational Sustainability

Two years ago as part of a class, philosophical issues of sustainability, I wrote a term paper called Rational Sustainability. At the time, I had just finished my derivation of statistical economics while being frustrated at the lack of rigor in microeconomic/macroeconomic theory, I was taking a graduate micro-econ course at the time. I had not yet discovered Austrian economic theory, and as part of my work in deriving statistical economics found Austrian economics and have since come to appreciate it.

The sustainability philosophy class was eye opening for me.  The professor on the second day said that he thought we should abandon methodological individualism, MI. His reasoning here was I think due to his need to advance his concept of sustainability, and that by holding on to MI we could not achieve his vision sustainability. It took me a good solid minute to extract my jaw from my desk and to look around the class. I was the only one who was shocked and who saw this as a terrible course of action to seriously consider.  I saw it as an abandonment of reason. I see it now as the guarantee of a Malthusian future. My survey of the class has since jaded my outlook on the future of higher education in this country.

I now had a mission to expose the drive and push for collectivism for what it is, slow suicide. What is a fully consistent framework that exposes the collectivist approach to sustainability for what it is? Previous arguments against collectivism are written off as being selfish. After studying Hayek for the past few years and coming to appreciate the simplicity in his work, I think the ‘selfish’ argument is a misrepresentation of individualism. Self interested, yes. I want to live. I do not want to give my life without my consent and will fight against its forcible removal, by increment or totality. This was the point that needed clarification.

I look at statistical economics as a mathematical extension of the logic of Ludwig von Mises “Human Action”. He thinks that utility can only be ordinal and denies the idea of cardinality in utility. However, if we take into account all of our information at hand, e.g. counting occurrences, we can through Bayesian Probability theory assign cardinality to utility. It is this point and a few others that I disagree with him (e.g. the nature of money, and the nature and role of probability theory). When I wrote my paper, “Rational Sustainability”, I had not fully read “Human Action” beyond a few excerpts. I have now since read “Human Action” and was surprised at the degree of similarity with my mathematical modeling and social implications to “Human Action”.

I have not always held the political beliefs that I now do. It has been a progression over the last 20-years from being a socialist to what I can now best describe as a classical liberal.  The work that I’ve done on statistical economics has cured any last vestige of socialism I had. I understand socialism now as fundamentally seeking to violate the third law of thermodynamics. It is simply the Sirens’ song of perpetual motion. Hayek’s The Use of Knowledge in Society gets to the heart of the issue as being the use of information in society. Information as to the nature of the society which is measured quantitatively with statistical economics as entropy. The second and third laws simply are the consequences of aggregation of an ensemble. Only by aggregating a system formally as Gibbs, and I do (I used Gibbs), do we see these properties in stark relief and without misunderstanding.

Here is Rational Sustainability. As always I reserve the right to be wrong, and appreciate any feedback that you may have.

Creative Commons License
Statistical Economics is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at statisticaleconomics.org.

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Liberty as a Consequence of Human Action « Statistical Economics

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