UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Rhetorical emergence and the economy : the Sante Fe Institute Artificial Stock Market, complexity economics, and the rhetorical dimensions of economic activity. Eldredge, Blaine Thomas


Drawing on work in digital and algorithmic rhetoric, I analyze the organization of space and time in complexity models. I argue that the success of complexity economic models is a consequence of their ability to reflect the rhetorical situation of the marketplace: they represent time as a series of causal interactions and space as a consequence of coordinated interaction. Complexity economics investigates the inclination of markets to behave as complex systems: self-organizing, emergent, and non-linear. The 1999 Artificial Stock Market designed by Sante Fe Institute theorists Blake LeBaron, William Brian Arthur, and Richard Palmer is perhaps the fundamental expression of a complex marketplace. It was among the first models to accurately predict market downturns, a success that followed as a consequence of its construction. In ordinary market models, traders are driven by profit maximization and a simple recursive strategy: they remember their mistakes, and respond to analogous market situations with new information in a linear, causal process. In their model, LeBaron, Arthur, and Palmer created a series of overlapping causal processes in which the market could operate as a persuasive agent. In complexity economics, the market is itself an interlocutive agent, thereby permitting nonlinear, bidirectional causality. These causal modes have spatial and temporal corollaries. The unique compositions of complex economies is rhetorical. Their complex causal processes reflect a discursive marketplace in which space and time to emerge as relational properties.

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