Contributions in modern theoretical physics and chemistry on the behavior of nonlinear systems, exemplified by Ilya Prigogine's work on the thermodynamics of open systems (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984), attract growing attention in economics (Anderson, Arrow, and Pines, 1988; Arthur, 1990; Baumol and Benhabib, 1989; Mirowski, 1990; Radzicki, 1990). Our purpose here is to relate the new orientation in the natural sciences to a particular nonorthodox strand of thought within economics. All that is needed for this purpose is some appreciation of the general thrust of the enterprise, which involves a shift of perspective from the determinism of conventional physics (which presumably inspired the neoclassical research program in economics) to the nonteleological open-endedness, creative, and nondetermined nature of evolutionary processes.
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