The Base Camp Paradox: A Reflection on the Place of Tâtonnement in General Equilibrium Theory

Economics and Philosophy 6 (02):235- (1990)
A basic issue in political economy is the question of how a decentralized economy is possible: How can a system survive and, moreover, be efficient, if all decisions are taken independently, that is, without any explicit coordination? The issue has two sides to it. On the one hand, it is a “thought experiment,” falsifiable only on logical grounds, an object of debate for the sake of pure intellectual interest, even for people who might not live in a market economy. On the other hand, for those who do or might live in such an economy, a thought experiment of this kind contains a critical political dimension, for the conclusions derived from it will usually be appealed to in arguing about the ideal organization of the economy
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DOI 10.1017/S0266267100001231
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