Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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The Physics of Society: Philosophy of Econophysics and Complex Social Systems (22-23 July, 2016)


Idea and Motivation

Econophysics is a new and exciting cross-disciplinary research field involving the applications of techniques from statistical physics and complex systems theory to economic systems. In particular, econophysics models have been successfully applied to recover certain 'stylised facts’ about financial markets and about inequality in income distributions. There are a number of interesting and important methodological questions relating to the foundations of econophysics, and to the treatment of social systems as complex systems in general. For example: Are the idealisations and abstractions used in econophysics models justified in the same way as the analogous idealisations in statistical physics models? What do philosophical accounts of explanation say about the putative explanation of the stylised facts by econophysics models? How are econophysics models relevant to debates about emergence and universality? How should we interpret the presence of power laws in economic data? What is the role of information and entropy in the modelling of economic systems?


Day 1 (21 July 2016)

09:00 - 09:20 Registration
09:20 - 09:30 Welcome
09:30 - 10:30 Christophe Schinckus: "1996-2016. Two Decades of Econophysics: Between Methodological Diversification and Conceptual Coherence." (Slides, 777 Kb)
10:30 - 11:00 Coffee Break
11:00 - 12:00 Tobias Huber: "The Physics of Finance? Econophysics, Complexity, and Reflexivity." (Slides, 4,9 Mb)
12:00 - 13:00 Lena Zuchowski: "Descriptive and Structural Complexity." (Slides, 334 Kb)
13:00 - 14:30 Lunch
14:30 - 15:30 Max Urchs: "Embracing Complexity." (Slides, 137 Kb)
15:30 - 15:45 Short Break
15:45 - 16:45 Christoph Merdes: "Persons as Particles. The Microfoundations of Opinion Dynamics." (Slides, 330 Kb)
16:45  -17:15 Coffee Break
17:15 - 18:15 Karim Thébault: "Models on the Move. Migration and Imperialism." (Slides, 1,5 Mb)
19:00 Conference Dinner (Café Reitschule)

Day 2 (23 July 2016)

10:30 - 11:00 Coffee Break
11:00 - 12:00 James Weatherall: "This Time It's Different? Econophysics, from 1900 to Today."
12:00 - 13:00 Jenn Jhun, Patricia Palacios, James Weatherall: "Giving Econophysics a Chance. On the Plausibility of Modeling Financial Crashes as Critical Phase Transitions." (Slides, 1,5 Mb)
13:00 - 14:30 Lunch
14:30 - 15:30 Lorenzo Casini: "How Theoretical Explorations Explain. A Bayesian Account." (Slides, 795 Kb)
15:30 - 15:45 Short Break
15:45 - 16:45 Meinard Kuhlmann: "Explanation and Prediction in Econophysics."
16:45 - 17:15 Coffee Break
17:15 - 18:15 Karoline Wiesner: "Entropy and Information in Complex Systems." (Slides, 11 Mb)
18:15 - 18:30 Farewell


We are grateful to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft e.V. (DPG) for financial support.

Photo Credits

Header background: Guillaume, "Crowd down the street". Some right reserved (desaturated from original). Source: