Qual Quant (2014) 48:3463–3474
Irreducible complexities: from Gödel and Turing
to the paradigm of Imperfect Knowledge Economics
Published online: 7 December 2013
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013
Abstract The paper discusses synthetically an epistemological question in the ﬁeld of eco-
nomics: how to translate a real problem into formal terms without a substantial loss of
signiﬁcance for its solution in policy making. The discussion will challenge the plausibility
of the basic assumption of ultra-rational subjects who act independently of each other and
will propose a research programme in Imperfect Knowledge Economics (in an Appendix the
latter is compared with the mainstream model founded on Rational Expectation Hypothesis).
References to some results of the debate in mathematics, but also in computer science, are
produced in support.
Keywords Reality and economic theory · Imperfect knowledge · Strategic rationality ·
Risk and uncertainty · Expectations
In mainstream theoretical approaches formal frameworks built on axiomatic bases have been
made extremely sophisticated, as if they were able to give an exhaustive explanation of reality.
Although over the years neoclassical authors have skilfully adapted some early stylizations
(hypotheses of choice under uncertainty, game theory,…), it must be admitted that there
is a loss in consistency and representativeness when the real state of economic systems is
constrained in very rigid and simpliﬁed theoretical frameworks.
In comparison with the neoclassical point of view, other approaches (for example the
Keynesian one) have proved to be more suited to representing complexity, but they require a
deliberate re-evaluation of the absolutizing claims of theoretical models.
In spite of the fascination with the elegance of the ﬁrst option, the second shows greater
adaptability and coherence, according to some results of the debate in mathematics, but also
G. Garofalo (
Tuscia University, Viterbo, Italy